Deaf and blind students allegedly involved in multiple sexual assaults

Attorney Michael Green holds a document he says proves the DOE knew about the allegations in 2009.
Attorney Michael Green holds a document he says proves the DOE knew about the allegations in 2009.

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are two disturbing investigations going on over allegations that several kids carried out sexual assaults allegedly dating back for years and it was all taking place at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind in Kapahulu.

The Department of Education says it is cooperating with the police investigation and has its own internal investigation as well.

Meanwhile the attorney involved says some of the victims have already moved out of the state because of what happened.

"We're talking about instances where boys are sodomized, girls are raped, we're talking about digital penetration, we're talking about oral sex, and it's all over the place whether it's in school busses, it's in dorms," said Michael Green, victim's attorney. "I mean I can't imagine somebody having oral sex on a school bus with a bunch of kids sitting on the school bus and the person driving the bus, I can't imagine that going on."

Green has spoken with more than five of the alleged victim's families and plans to sue the state.  He says he has a letter from 2009 from the Department of Education Superintendent acknowledging disciplinary action against students, only to have more sexual assault allegations this year.

"It's not thinkable. You can send your child that has these special needs to a school and be worried about your child being raped. It's unthinkable," said Green. "Things that no child or no person should ever experience, coupled with the fact that these children have special needs."

There are fewer than 80 kids at the public school from kindergarten through 12th grade.  Green believes half of them were involved in some way.  The victims are between 12 to 16 years old.  The suspects are all students.

"Earlier this year detectives began investigating multiple sexual assault cases involving multiple juvenile victims and suspects.  As a result, several juvenile males have been arrested in recent months.  The investigation is ongoing and anyone with additional information should contact school authorities and the police," said the Honolulu Police Department in a written statement.

The Department of Education says Principal Sydney Dickerson was placed on department directed leave.

An interim principal took her place a few weeks ago and she will be assigned to the school for the duration of the investigation.

Green believes other faculty at the school should also be placed on leave.

"The buck stops with the principal but there are a lot of loose coins underneath that buck that need to be taken care of," said Green. "The teachers knew. I have no doubt that they knew."

"If you have the slightest hint you don't wait until someone comes forward. And police are talking about rape and sexual assault, you don't waste a second in protecting your children," said Green.

"It becomes a big concern," said Kimo Keawe, Hawaii Centers for Independent Living Executive Director.  "For it to be unnoticed by the administration or the school staff baffles me."

The Hawaii Centers for Independent Living is extremely concerned especially since this is the only school specifically for the deaf and blind in the state.

"You've got statewide parents and families sending their children to this school. Boarding at this school. There are fees involved to do this. But right now there is no guarantee in the child's safety," said Keawe.  "The matter of fact is the damage is done and it's something these children have to live with for years."

And there's more.  A whistleblower on the faculty was retaliated against when she came forward with concerns.  She has hired an attorney.

Green also is looking into a potential cover up between teachers and interpreters.

"If there was a cover up and attempted cover up between teachers and interpreters in what would become public, that's a different issue as well.  There could be an obstruction of justice issue which is criminal, tampering with witnesses could be criminal, so there's a lot of stuff out there and this is just the beginning of it," said Green.

We did see construction crews working on the dorm windows, doors and fencing today however it's unknown if it's related to the investigation.

The Department of Education released the following written statement:

"Students, parents, staff, and the community place their trust in our public schools.  The Hawaii State Department of Education takes its responsibilities seriously to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of its students, and is committed to investigate all claims of inappropriate behavior.

"Thus, the Department has initiated an internal investigation at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind and is fully cooperating with law enforcement officials.

"At the onset of the investigation, immediate steps were taken by the Department to increase security and safety measures on campus to ensure the safety and well-being of students and employees.

"The Department is unable to provide further comment or details at this time due to the ongoing investigation."

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