ZB

Sexual abuse trial for former Dilworth teacher begins

Author
Isaac Davison, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 23 May 2022, 1:44pm
Former Dilworth School teacher Leonard Cave arriving at court in October 2020. Photo / Michael Craig
Former Dilworth School teacher Leonard Cave arriving at court in October 2020. Photo / Michael Craig

Sexual abuse trial for former Dilworth teacher begins

Author
Isaac Davison, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 23 May 2022, 1:44pm

WARNING: Article contains descriptions of sexual abuse 

Dilworth School students reported sexual abuse by a former music teacher to the headmaster but no action was taken, a court has heard. 

Leonard Cave, from Whanganui, has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges relating to sexual violation, indecent assault, and supplying drugs to boys in Auckland and Hamilton over four decades. 

Cave's trial began in the Auckland High Court today. 

In his opening remarks, prosecutor Jacob Barry said the case was about a breach of trust by a person who would have been implicitly trusted by those in his care. 

"The trust of six young men across four decades was broken by their seemingly affable, quiet choirmaster, Leonard Cave." 

The first complaint against Cave came from a choirboy at Dilworth School in 1970-71, who was aged 14 or 15 years old, Barry said. 

Cave, a tutor at the time, approached the boy in the Dilworth School chapel, pushed him up against the wall and grabbed his crotch, before placing the boy's hand on his own crotch. 

The boy complained to the principal at the time, Peter Parr, but no action was taken. 

Barry said this "set the stage for things to come" as complaints against Cave did not appear to have been referred to police or other authorities. 

Cave left the school for another role overseas in 1971 and returned to Dilworth several years later as head of the music department. 

In this role, he developed close relationships with some students, and took two Dilworth boarding house students to a holiday home on Waiheke Island early in the 1980s. 

The boys were given alcohol by Cave, and they drank late into the evening. Their memories were not totally clear, Barry said, but they remembered alleged abuse by Cave very clearly. 

Cave placed one of the boys' hands down his pants, and when he resisted, kept repeating the act. Another boy then witnessed Cave abusing the student. 

Neither of the boys were prepared to report the abuse for decades, Barry said. 

The fourth accuser was a Dilworth student who enrolled at the school in 1980. He joined the choir and studied music, and developed a close relationship with Cave. 

The boy was also invited to Cave's Waiheke bach, where the music teacher purchased a bottle of whisky for them to drink on the beach. The boy got "extremely drunk" and had to be carried back to the bach, Barry said. He then attempted to get the boy to perform oral sex on him. 

A fifth Dilworth student alleged that they were also hosted at Cave's bach on Waiheke in the early 1980s. After drinking heavily at a pub they returned to the bach and the boy was encouraged to play a game which involved taking his clothes off. Cave then attempted to perform oral sex on the boy, who resisted and fled from the bach. 

The court heard that the boy complained to his mother, who laid a complaint with Dilworth School. That led to a meeting with the headmaster, after which Cave resigned at the school. 

However, Barry said, the mother said she felt nothing else would be done about the alleged abuse. She also did not feel comfortable going to the police about it. 

In all, Cave was alleged to have abused five boys across two stints at Dilworth School. 

The court also heard that Cave was later accused of supplying drugs to a person under 18 and sexual offending against a student at St Paul's Collegiate in Hamilton. 

The boy did not complain to the school or authorities at the time, but made a complaint to police in 2012. Police spoke to Cave but did not place charges. 

A police investigation into historic abuse at Dilworth School, named Operation Beverly, resulted in charges against Cave and six other men in September 2020. 

The trial is expected to run for two weeks, and jurors will hear from 20 witnesses.