Dilworth School: Former assistant principal jailed for sexual abuse of boys

A survivor of sexual abuse at Aucklands Dilworth School has asked the man who violated him as a school boy if he remembered him.
Neil Harding took the rare step of asking the court to revoke his automatic name suppression and confronted Ian Robert Wilson at the Auckland District Court on Tuesday.

That day has come Mr Wilson. Youre sitting there and Im sitting here, Harding said as he stared his 69-year-old former teacher in the eye.

Wilson, Dilworth's former senior school assistant principal, sat in the dock, the only person wearing a mask in the court.

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Did you not consider Id grow up and remember your actions? Harding asked him.

Ian Wilson worked at Dilworth for over 20 years.

Do you remember me or was I just one of many?

Harding was one of five boys who Wilson admitted sexually abusing.

Judge Russell Colllins sentenced Wilson to three years and seven months in prison after Wilson earlier admitted six charges of indecent assault and one of inducing a boy to do an indecent act.

Harding told the court that he had been accepted into Dilworth after his father abandoned the family.

David White/Stuff
Judge Russell Collins.

He felt special when Wilson invited him on a trip with other boys on a trip where Wilson sexually abused him.

Harding said he did what Dilworth had taught him, I copped it and shut up.

He approached the police in the late 1990s and gave a statement but nothing was done. He said he was relieved when police opened their investigation into Dilworth in 2020 and took his complaint seriously.

Another man who was sexually abused by Wilson while attending Dilworth spoke of the abuse happening several times a week for four-and-a-half years.

He said Wilson threatened to kill himself if the boy disclosed the offending. When the boy told a religious leader at the school he was called a stupid boy and a liar.

David White/Stuff
Ian Robert Wilson at an earlier appearance at the Auckland District Court.

The man suffered from anxiety and depression later in life.

Crown prosecutor Jacob Barry said Dilworth was founded to provide a sanctuary to boys who faced difficult situations at home. Wilson used that to his advantage.

Wilson's lawyer Steve Cullen said his client was introduced to corrupting behaviour at the school by another staff anggota and said the sexual abuse was normalised.

Cullen read an apology letter from Wilson to the court, where he said he was utterly ashamed of his actions and hoped they would be able to one day heal.

Cullen said his client had prostate cancer and had been the primary caregiver for his wife who also has serious health issues.

Wilson started at Dilworth in 1975. He was involved in the Scout group, was a housemaster and taught history and te reo Mori.

In 1988, he was promoted to assistant senior school principal, a role he kept until being charged with sexual offending against a boy in 1996.

Judge Collins said he had to sentence Wilson on what the law was at the time.

He told Wilson that he had read Cullens arguments about the abuse being normalised at Dilworth but he dismissed that.

You did what you did in secret, and you sought secrecy from your victims.

He took time off Wilsons sentence for his early guilty pleas, his age, remorse and serious health issues.

Previous conviction​

Wilson was also convicted in 1997 of doing an indecent act on a boy.

A media report at the time did not name WIlson but said he won the trust of the boys widowed mother and took the boy and his brother on camping trips up north.

It was on the trips that Wilson sexually abused the boy.

Wison was fined $3500.

He had been given permanent name suppression, but the order was challenged on Tuesday by the media, in light of his most recent offending.

Wilson did not oppose and Judge Collins revoked the name suppression.

Wilson is one nine men in their 60s and 70s to have been charged.

One of the men, former Scout master Richard Charles Galloway died of cancer in November. Galloway had pleaded not guilty.

The others have also denied the charges and have had their case transferred to the High Court in Auckland where they are due to appear in April.


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