Sentencing of Ross Browne

21 November 2023

Statement from Dilworth Trust Board Chairman Aaron Snodgrass

“Today Ross Browne was sentenced to seven months imprisonment, after pleading guilty to an additional five criminal charges relating to historical sexual abuse at our School. This sentencing will be added to Mr Browne’s previous sentence of 6.5 years’ imprisonment in 2021 on 16 charges relating to historical sexual abuse and possession of child exploitation material.

The Dilworth Trust Board commends the courage of the former Dilworth students who were abused, who brought these complaints to the School and the Police.

We acknowledge the pain and life-long and continuing impact of Ross Browne’s offending on the lives of former students who were abused, and on their families and whānau. His actions were a gross and complete breach of the trust placed in him by the students he was meant to protect, guide, mentor and teach.

When Mr Browne was sentenced in 2021, it was acknowledged by the judge at the time that no sentence of imprisonment will provide solace for the harm faced by former students who were abused at our School. The Board agrees with this.

Mr Browne was the Dilworth School Chaplain and head of pastoral care from 1980 to 2006. When concerns regarding Mr Browne’s teaching methods and familiarity with students were initially raised by staff, students and parents, our School’s response was inadequate.

We apologise to all former Dilworth students who were abused at our School, their families, and all former Dilworth students for the actions of Ross Browne. We deeply regret what occurred in the past.

The Independent Inquiry Report into abuse at Dilworth School, published on 18 September 2023, was unsparingly honest about our School’s historical failures to protect students. The Report makes abundantly clear that it was not their fault – it was their School that failed to protect them.

The Dilworth Trust Board has fully accepted and is acting on all 19 recommendations of the Independent Inquiry. You can read more about our response here.

Our focus remains on supporting our former students and our School community at this difficult time. Any former Dilworth student who needs assistance can contact the confidential Listening Service, which provides access to fully funded professional psychological support services. Please email [email protected] and a Listening Service psychologist will contact you.”