Warning: This story contains details of sexual abuse and suicide.

One of Dilworth’s most prolific child sex offenders has been sentenced to six and a half years in jail.

Ross Douglas Browne in the High Court in Auckland on 2 December 2021. Ross Douglas Browne in the High Court in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi


In October, Ross Douglas Browne pleaded guilty at the Auckland High Court to 16 charges.

In the High Court in Auckland this morning one victim, now an adult, told Browne what he did flipped his life upside down, created a life-long anxiety and ruined relationships he later had, including his marriage.

Others have said they have lived with serious lingering effects caused by his offending.

The 73-year-old had pleaded guilty to 16 charges, most of them in relation to indecently assaulting boys between 1987 and 2004.

Most of the charges were for indecently assaulting boys between 12 and 16 years old. He assaulted the boys between 1987 to 2004.

Eight of his victims have been in the High Court in Auckland today, and more watched court proceedings via a video call.

The mother of one boy, who could not bear to talk about what happened, said her son became addicted to methamphetamine and told her it was to “numb the pain”.

Other victims told the court they had self-harmed or thought of suicide.

One said he had known of multiple former students who had died by suicide after being abused.

Justice Toogood said his offending was premeditated and predatory and sentenced him to six and a half years in prison.

Browne was Dilworth School’s chaplain from 1980 to 2006, and was also the Vicar of the Anglican Parish of Manurewa until he was charged.

He was also involved in youth theatre and a small radio station which young people were involved with.

He was one of 11 men linked to Dilworth School initially charged with historical sexual abuse.

Court documents, which Browne has verified as true, showed he invited boys to a room next to his office known as the Crypt.

In the Crypt, young boys would often sit on Browne’s knee where he touched them inappropriately. He would also offer them massages in their underwear or completely naked, during which he also touched them.

Browne encouraged boys, some as young as 12 years old, to be intimate with each other.

Before leaving the Crypt each day, the boys would be expected to hug Browne.

Separately, in the classroom, Browne ran a “Christian Living Class” where he encouraged boys to openly masturbate during the lesson.

He told them if they were aroused, “it was fine for them to masturbate in the class”. Up to 15 boys at a time did. This happened on multiple occasions, which the court documents say resulted in a “normalising” of the behaviour.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What’s Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

OUTLine: 0800 688 5463 (6pm-9pm)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.