The Dilworth abuse ring
Since this piece was written, 22 former students have described being ignored or punished for reporting abuse at Dilworth. In February 2022, Alister Harlow reversed his initial plea of not guilty to three charges and will be sentenced in April.
In late 2020, amidst the The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, revelations emerged of a historic pedophile ring at Auckland’s prestigious Dilworth School that dated back to the 1970s. After a police investigation codenamed Operation Beverly identified more than 100 victims, six men were initially charged, with only one of them, former assistant principal Ian Robert Wilson, admitting to the charges. Sentenced to less than four years in prison, it was revealed that Wilson had already been convicted of indecent assault in 1997, which saw him fined $3,000 for abusing a student during a school trip. A few months after the initial conviction, another victim, Neil Harding, had also approached police, who refused to take his statement. It would take decades until Harding again attempted to speak out, finally sparking the chain of events which publicly exposed the Dilworth pedophile ring.
Soon after the initial arrests, Wilson’s co-accused were joined by three more men linked to the school. Unlike the former assistant principal, they all entered a plea not guilty. Some were granted interim name suppression, including Richard Galloway, whose identity was only revealed after he died of cancer soon after the arrests. A former Scout master at Dilworth, Galloway was also charged with separate offences outside of the school, including the supply of drugs, which are said to have taken place in both Auckland and Hamilton. Outside of his abuse of his students, Galloway is also believed to have organised parties at his Dilworth-owned house, with victims supplied by Wayne Moonie.
Back in 2012, Galloway took part in an interview for Pride NZ, recounting how he moved overseas as a young man to work as an air traffic controller in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, before he came back home to run various businesses.
I’ve had quite a few businesses. The tire business I’ve had for 10 years…I was born in Newmarket, so I haven’t come far. I still live in America. But I have lived overseas and Thailand for a year. And I worked in the United Arab Emirates for five years…doing a traffic control…then at [Auckland] airport
Not discussed was his association with Dilworth, although Galloway did mention his work with OUTLine, an organisation which dates back to 1972 and receives financial support from both the state and the private sector.
Along with Galloway, Rex McIntosh’s name was revealed after the initial charges were laid, along with details of his longtime career at Northland’s Ruawai College and recent relief work at other schools, as well as his acting work on productions such as Shortland Street. Like his co-accused, McIntosh had also been interviewed about his life, in his case for express, a nationally distributed magazine with advertisers including SkyCity casinos and ASB bank. Most notably, he recounted a story of how he was accused of abuse while teaching in an unidentified country school in Northland:
One morning my class were lined up outside my room. I came up and ruffled the hair of a cheerful lad and said ‘Good morning, how are you today?”
At morning interval I got a summons to the principal’s office. The lad had reported me to the boss and wanted to charge me with sexual assault! The principal put him in his place, happily for me.
McIntosh claims the accusation was baseless, coming after his ex-wife revealed that he was gay, and while this could be true, it does take on a sinister new relevance due to his ongoing trial for the same crime. At any rate, just a few months after Galloway’s death, McIntosh also passed away, of unclear causes, a day before he was due in court. Then, only hours after, another defendant dropped dead, with his name suppression lapsing soon after. Now identified as Keith William Dixon, it has been revealed that he was previously convicted of abuse in 2014, with Judge Eddie Paul choosing to suppress the naming of Dilworth as the school where the crimes occurred.
Along with the defendants who lost their name suppression over the course of the trials, several had been identified from the start. They included Ross Browne, who resigned as the Vicar of the Anglican Parish of Manurewa when the news broke. Having served as Dilworth’s chaplain from 1979 until his resignation in 2006, Browne had been involved in Scouts along with Galloway, and also organised a related theatre troupe named the Auckland Gang Show:
In the early 1970s [Galloway] also became the founding director and producer of the Auckland Gang Show, an amateur theatrical performance where the cast is made up of young people involved in Scouts and Guides. Scouts chief executive Joshua Tabor said Browne was no longer involved in Scouts and support was now being offered to the Gang Show community.
“We can confirm that Mr Browne, the Dilworth School Chaplain, was also the long serving director of the Auckland Central Gang Show, a biannual Scout & Guide related musical theatre production. Mr Browne served in the role for 50 years until 2019,”
Along with this, Browne, was also involved with a youth-focused Christian radio station, Star Radio, which is part of the wider Rhema Media group.
Linked to powerful American evangelical Pat Roberton, the station also appears to have been supported by former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon:
The station was ‘switched on’ by the then Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Robert Muldoon. Mr. Muldoon told listeners, “I have seldom opened something which has given me more joy.” He traced the history of Radio Rhema, and paid tribute to the faith sustained by Radio Rhema members who had withstood many setbacks and disappointments over the years. He ended saying, “This is a faith that moves mountains.”
Galloway has since had further charges laid against him, including for possessing objectionable material, which date back to as early as 2020. In October 2021, he plead guilty to 15 counts relating to sexual abuse and was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.
As well as Browne, another Dilworth Scout leader, Alister Harlow, was named as one of the defendants. The revelations came at a bad time for Scouts NZ, which was already grappling with other cases of sexual abuse. In July 2020, former Mt Albert Scouts leader James Morris had been found to have molested children in his care. Around a year later, Graham William Morine was also convicted of similar offending over on Auckland’s North Shore, also it is unclear at this stage if there was any direct link between the cases.
As for Harlow, a former housemaster who went on to work as an accountant, he had served as the executive director of Connexis until 2016, when he left to take up the same job at the New Zealand Roadmarkers Federation. In September 2020 during the final stages of Operation Beverly, Harlow suddenly resigned from the NZRF. Along with his work in the infrastructure training industry, he had also been a fundraiser for the Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre, partly to support visits by schools. There is currently no suggestion that Harlow carried out abuse through the latter group.
In May 2021, another Dilworth defendant, Graeme Charles Lindsay lost his name suppression. Based in Levin, his profile matches a former biological scientist who established Daily Espresso Limited in 2012. Listed as a Doctor, he appears to have been employed at a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry research centre in the area, working on behalf of the New Zealand government. Lindsay has since plead guilty to two charges of indecent assault, and has been sentenced to around six months of home detention. Soon after in June, two unnamed men were also charged. One of them was later identified as Johnathan Stephens, who is around the same age as the above defendants. The other, at 39, is noticeably younger, possibly indicating that the police inquiry is expanding beyond its initial focus on historic offending.
Most recently, Leonard Cave, one of the original arrestees, lost his name suppression. A music teacher and organ player, Cave is also alleged to have carried out abuse in the Waikato at St Paul’s Collegiate. It is believed that he first came into contact with Dilworth through the University of Auckland, becoming head of the Music Department in 1975. After retiring from education, Cave performed as an organist for various churches, and formed the Franklin Community Choir.
So far, over one hundred and fifty men have spoken to the authorities, with the majority of them identifying themselves as victims of abuse. Outside of Operation Beverly, a class action lawsuit was launched around this time, before being quickly withdrawn by the firm representing the former students. According to the principal of GCA Lawyers, Grant Cameron, the case would have been too costly to proceed, leaving the status of the would-be plaintiffs unclear.
The backstory of these defendants, and likely that of the two who remain unknown, reflects the place of Dilworth School in the elite circles of Aotearoa New Zealand. Established in 1906 with a remit to admit vulnerable boys, the college was the subject of a 2006 piece in the New Zealand Herald, which remarked that:
“The Anglican-based school’s 4000 alumni include vice-royalty, politicians, academics, teachers, lawyers, athletes, musicians and assorted other high achievers — although a few have strayed into disreputable fields like journalism.”
Among its alumni includes Jami-Lee Ross, formerly a rising star in the National Party who suddenly gave up his senior roles of spokesperson for transport and infrastructure in October 2018. According to the man himself, the move was due to unnamed health reasons, yet around two weeks later he would be named as the National MP who leaked then-leader Simon Bridges’ expenses to the media.
In the resulting controversy, Bridges would stand down, with Ross ally Judith Collins eventually taking the party into the 2020 election. As for Ross, his sexual misconduct would be exposed to the nation, with four women speaking anonymously to Newsroom about his behaviour. In the case of one of his partners, their relationship began after consistent pressure by Ross, who promised her that it would be beneficial to her career:
“It was like a fairy tale. I’d found this person, this soulmate, who provided meaningful advice…he always knew what to do. Looking back, it was nothing but a game.”
Soon however, Ross began to display highly controlling behaviour, questioning the woman about her day.:
“He would fly into jealous rages, arguing endlessly. That’s when the abusive part of the relationship started to outweigh the love-bombing. I would think, ‘Why can’t I get this right? Why can’t I communicate in a way that pleases him?’”
That’s when the sex became “what you’d describe as brutal and misogynistic”.
Another former lover described him as “grooming” her, comments which take on a new light given the revelations at the school Ross boarded at during his teens. Further investigations into Ross were stymied however by his involuntary institutionalisation by police at an Auckland mental health facility. With the man at the centre of the scandal now allegedly suicidal, the immediate controversy would begin to wind down.
Ross, thrown out of the National Party but holding onto his electorate seat in Botany, would form his own party, Advance NZ. Ahead of the 2020 election, he formed an alliance with musician Billy Te Kahika Jr, who had attracted media attention for his outlandish claims on issues such as 5G and Covid-19. In the end, Advance NZ won less than 30,000 votes, and Ross lost his seat. Currently, he is engaged in a legal dispute with his former ally, represented by lawyer and prominent media commentator Graeme Edgeler.
Hurting Ross’s reputation before the election were further revelations of misconduct while an MP, a few months before the abuse scandal at his former college became public. Despite the overlap, the media portrayal of Ross is of a rogue element with the National Party, not an influential insider who made connections and learned certain behaviours at Dilworth. According to a glowing 2011 profile in the New Zealand Herald, Ross boarded at the school, leaving for Pakuranga College before dropping out at age 16. He then obtained a job as a lifeguard at the Lloyd Elsmore swimming pool, before being selected by the right-wing Citizens and Ratepayers to stand for a seat on the local council just two years later.
The facilities where Jami-Lee Ross appears to have been plucked for a safe position on the C&R ticket is part of a large network of council-owned leisure centres based around a park named for the former Mayor of Manakau City, Sir Lloyd Elsmore. Amongst the amenities are the Howick Pakūranga Cricket Club, where a prominent figure in the Auckland athletics community, Donald Parker, was warned, but not charged, by an unnamed police commander for acting inappropriately with a young girl:
Parker was connected to the Howick athletics club before it was disbanded some years ago. He was also a well-known face on the wider athletics scene in the 1980s…Parker reportedly also attended cricket matches at Lloyd Elsmore Park in East Auckland and was once seen on a bench with his arm around a young girl. A former police commander spoke to Parker and told him what he was doing was not appropriate but the matter went no further.
The revelations about “Dr Don” came after he was accused of abuse by a former sprinter, who may well have trained at the track located within the wider Lloyd Elsmore facilities:
A woman who claims she was sexually abused by a team official while competing for Auckland as an 11-year-old sprinter in the 1980s has received an extraordinary apology from the governing body of athletics…Athletics Auckland chairman David Sim admitted he “would not be surprised if more adults came forward as a result of [today’s] story”
As it happened, the Howick Athletics Club lost its records in a fire around the same time, likely hampering any investigation of Parker’s crimes. What is known is that he volunteered for St John Ambulance from 1982 to his death 2007, of unknown causes. With further victims coming forward to describe about grooming behaviour after the initial story however, the legacy of “Dr Don” casts another shadow on the circles from which Ross saw his sudden rise in politics.