A well-known artist has been found guilty of raping his teenage students at his private Auckland studio, but he will keep his identity hidden.

The man, who the Herald cannot name due to court suppression orders, was found guilty by a jury in the Auckland District Court on several sex charges.

The charges included six counts of rape, five of indecent assault, five of unlawful sexual connection, and two of sexual connection with a young person.

He was also found guilty of assault with a weapon, when he used a belt against a student in what he described as a game of "Medieval sex".


The artist violated four women, aged 14 to 18, during 2014 and 2015 at his private studio.

The Herald cannot name the studio or mention the artist's career history.

He was also found not guilty of one count of an indecent act and will be sentenced on October 5.

He has interim name suppression until that date.

The artist, who has had his work displayed in well-known galleries and offices, said he never forced any of his students to enter into a sexual relationship with him.

However, the court heard during the trial that the teens simply gave in to the artist's desires out of "fear or confusion".

Crown prosecutor Dale Dufty said the artist would call his students, with a tap on the shoulder, into his private studio.

He would then lock the door, Dufty said.

During these lessons the artist would tell "fantastical stories" to the students about art and his achievements in the industry.

"Over time during these one-on-one sessions he became physical," Dufty said.

The artist "pushed and persisted", he said.

"They said 'no', but he pushed on anyway ... They simply gave in out of fear or confusion."

The artist told one of his students what he was doing "was good for her" and would help her become a better artist.

He also told one of the teens that oral sex with him would enable her "to see colours".

Describing "Greek goddess" artwork, the artist claimed he could interpret the emotions of another artist from what colours and brush strokes they used.

He strenuously defended throughout the police investigation and trial that the affairs he had with the students were all consensual.

During the trial, however, Dufty asked the artist if he ever believed his actions were inappropriate.

"When you have a love for painting, you never ask why," the artist replied.

The artist also said he only learnt one of the students he was having sex with was underage after police charged him.

One of the students told the court her friends had urged her to come forward to police.

"They said, 'You have to tell him to stop'. He was just doing it all the time," she said in a police interview.

"I didn't know if they were going to support me or if they were going to look at me like, 'You're disgusting'," she said of her friends and family.

But, she added, the artist's actions "just started getting worse" as he described taking her on a "journey".

"Every time you would go in the room he would always lock the door.

"You need this experience, it will make you a better arts student," the woman said the artist would tell her.

"I believed him, I trusted him. He knows everything. I had to obey him, because I had no choice - I thought he would help me."

The jury heard that the artist also told the students to "pretend that nothing had happened" when they left the studio and "not to tell anyone or he would go to jail".

"He told them these things to attempt to earn their trust and to manipulate them," Dufty said.