Ex priest escapes justice: Rosmini College sex abuse investigation – William Jackson admits conduct

A former Catholic priest who has apologised for sexually abusing young boys at Rosmini College won’t be charged due to his age and the fact he now lives in England.

William Jackson was questioned by police in 2018 following allegations he abused four boys during his time at the Auckland Catholic boys’ school in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The former music and religious studies teacher, who was known as Brother Jackson then and went on to become Father Jackson, was sent to New Zealand in 1968 — despite having abused a young boy at a school in Tanzania two years earlier.

The 78-year-old has told police and the Kiwi victims he doesn’t remember touching anyone — but apologised for the “ugly events” anyway.

“I personally have no clear recollection of what happened but I do believe your account of my sexual abuse in your regard,” he said in a letter to one victim last year.

“I feel terrible that you remember me as the cause of your suffering.

“There is little I can do to heal your painful memories, except to deeply apologise for what I did …”

READ MORE: Rosmini College sex abuse victim: ‘This has haunted me for 45 years’

The Church has also apologised for the harm caused by Jackson and paid one victim $30,000 in compensation for his “terrible experience”.

That victim has now come forward to tell his story after seeing charges laid against seven former Dilworth School teaching staff in relation to historical sexual abuse.

The man, who wants to be identified only as Tim, said he wanted people to know such offending wasn’t isolated to Dilworth.

Tim contacted police in 2017 to report the abuse, which he says happened during a private music lesson when he was a 12-year-old student at Rosmini in the 1970s.

Jackson was sent back to England a year later after a parent contacted the school about allegations he had also molested two other children.

He now lives in a retirement village with other Rosminian priests and will not face charges in New Zealand.

Police wouldn’t comment on Tim’s case but a spokeswoman said extraditing someone from Britain was possible for indecent assault, but the process could be expensive and protracted if challenged by the accused.

She said deciding whether to extradite was case-specific and depended on many factors, including the views of the victims, strength of evidence, costs and any likely sentence.

Former Detective Sergeant James Watson, who ran the investigation but has since left the police, said a decision was made not to extradite Jackson because of his age and the fact the charge was unlikely to have resulted in a prison sentence.

He said one of the victims who came forward in 2002 died in an accident and Tim was the only one of the other three who pressed charges against Jackson.

“There’s other victims but none of them wanted to be named or come forward,” Watson said.

The fact Jackson will never be held to account in New Zealand is something Tim is okay with. “I am very happy that he stays in the UK. Let someone else pay to keep [him] alive.”

Current Rosmini headmaster Nixon Cooper said the college “strongly condemns any offending of this nature” and had supported Tim in contacting police. It also contacted the diocese to provide Tim with the next steps for his concerns to be heard.

Cooper was confident the school had robust procedures to deal with any allegations that may arise in the future and would back any student who came forward after suffering historical abuse.

“The wellbeing of our students — current and past — remains our priority,” he said.

Father Chris Fuse, the Provincial Superior in Britain and NZ, said Jackson at first denied the Rosmini claims but has since acknowledged “such abusive touching and written his apology to these men”.

“He has been interviewed by police but never charged, given his age and degree of confusion.”

Fuse said the Church in Britain intervened when it learned of the allegations and “removed from Jackson any exercise of ministry”.

“The bishop has removed from Bill Jackson the right to be called ‘Father’, the right to his ministry and to be seen as a priest.”

When asked why Jackson was sent to NZ despite offending in another country, Fuse said Jackson had undertaken a course of psychotherapy — something that was “probably accepted as the correct treatment” at the time.

Fuse said compensation has been offered to two former Rosmini students but only Tim had accepted. He said the National Office for Professional Standards opted for counselling and dialogue over prosecution so the payments were offered towards ongoing counselling for victims of abuse.

Jackson has sent Tim two apology letters, the first after his police interview, starting with: “To Whom it may concern”.

“I am deeply sorry and wholeheartedly apologise for any behaviour of mine that caused you and others distress of any sort in the time past and over the intervening years. I greatly regret any suffering I have caused you.”

A letter last year said he owed Tim a profound apology.

It’s not the first time Jackson has apologised. In 2010 he wrote to one of the former pupils of St Michael’s School in Soni, Tanzania, accepting his part in the “appalling sufferings” of the former pupil . The pupil was one of 22 former students in Soni who took proceedings against The Rosminian Order over the activities of paedophile and abusive priests during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Jackson could not be reached for comment.

Where to get help:

• If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (available 24/7)
• Better Blokes which provides peer support throughout Auckland, including a specific Pacific group.
• Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support at centres across New Zealand – find your closest one here.
• Mosaic – Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available 11am – 8pm)
• If you have been abused, remember it’s not your fault.

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