A retired Catholic brother jailed yesterday for sexually abusing schoolboys in his care in the late 1970s was himself abused as a youngster, the Wellington District Court was told.

John Louis Stevenson, 66, was jailed for 3 1/2 years for sexually assaulting four boys aged between 14 and 16 at the Hato Paora Maori Boys school in Feilding from 1976 to 1981.

Stevenson had pleaded guilty to six charges of indecent assault and one of inducing an indecent act.

Known as Brother Bernard while employed at the school as a sports coach and tuck shop manager from 1970 to 1983, Stevenson has entered no plea to further sex charges and will return to court on January 30.

His lawyer, Mike Antunovic, said Stevenson was abused at two stages of his life at a time when he was vulnerable.

"He has done exactly what was done to him. It begs the question as to whether this would have occurred if he hadn't been abused."

Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier read excerpts from statements by his victims on the impact Stevenson's abuse had on their lives.

They spoke of difficulties loving others, feeling unworthy and lives lived in anger.

"Clearly there has been a profound effect on each victim," she told the court.

Judge John Walker said Stevenson was abused as a teenager during two periods which began when he was 11, first by a work colleague and later when he entered the religious order where he became a brother.

"It may be that the offending against you contributed to your offending," he told Stevenson.

"On the other hand, these events should have shown you the deep effect abuse can have."

Stevenson had undergone weekly counselling sessions for the past five years and had the support of his family.

Judge Walker said he accepted his remorse. But the assaults were a gross abuse of trust which were repetitive against three of the four boys.

"Instead of caring for them you inflicted indecencies on them. You were so secure in your position that you carried out these offences in the presence of other boys and in the dormitories."

Stevenson is the second former Hato Paora school employee jailed for sexually abusing schoolboys after 67-year-old Andrew Cody was sentenced to 2 1/2 years' jail in August.

Former Marist priest Alan Woodcock was jailed for seven years in June last year on 21 child sex charges.

The 57-year-old former Upper Hutt man was convicted for the abuse of 11 boys between 1978 and 1987 while a teacher at St John's College in Hastings, St Patrick's College in Silverstream, Highden school for young priests in Palmerston North and the Futuna Catholic retreat in Wellington.