HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A multi-million dollar settlement has been reached in a sex assault lawsuit involving the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and the Blind.
The state will pay $5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed students were raped and assaulted for more than a decade.
"The ultimate result was to make sure these children got whatever treatment they needed, to make sure their parents got counseled, and it will go on for years and years and years to come," said Michael Green, one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit.
The settlement also means the Kapahulu school will be able to remain open. Green said some students were kept quiet by the threat that the state's only school for the deaf and blind would shut down. "they actually were fearful of complaining about sexual assaults because they would be ostracized for having the school closed down, so it was a progression of things that took place for years," he said.
Green filed the class-action lawsuit filed in August 2011, which claimed that for more than 10 years the school was terrorized by some of its students who called themselves "The Ringleaders."
The lawsuit says older students routinely attacked younger and smaller students, assaulting, robbing, raping even gang raping them on a regular basis.
The lawsuit said the school's administrator was informed in 2007 that some boys at the school were raping other boys on school grounds, but she failed to take action to stop the activity.
"There's a lot of people who had a lot of contact with this school, people who knew or should have known, and nothing was done," said Green.
The lawsuit also accused former counselor Scott O'Neal of engaging in inappropriate activities with male students, including overnight stays at his off-campus home. He will have to pay $750,000 under the settlement.
Green praised the other attorneys in the case, including state Attorney General David Louie. he said all sides agreed that the situation was appalling, and that something had to be done.
"There are people tonight, when they know there's a settlement in this case, that will sleep better than they have been sleeping in the last year or two," said Green.
The settlement, which was filed in federal court Friday, requires the approval of the state legislature.