Wednesday, August 20 2014 5:43 AM EDT2014-08-20 09:43:48 GMT
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KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Having been abused as a young girl by a Catholic priest Joelle Casteix has walked in the victim's shoes. Now she's walking neighborhoods to help others.
One door at a time, one flier in a mailbox at a time, Joelle Casteix canvassed the Kailua neighborhood near St. Anthony's Church.
"I'm here telling people about Father Henry who worked right here at St. Anthony's," said Casteix to a neighbor.
"Just down the street here?" the man replied.
"Yes," responded Casteix.
"Phew. That's some heavy stuff," said the unidentified neighbor.
She is talking specifically about Father Michael Henry who was at St. Anthony's from 1952 to 1974. Six victims have come forward in court accusing him of sexual abuse. She even found Father Henry's former neighbor who had children of her own.
"He was very friendly with the kids and they would talk about when one of the boys got his jeans tangled up in the bicycle chain he would go and get scissors and cut it off, you know very friendly. Just to think back it gives me the creeps," said Hideko Mumaw, neighbor.
Others also knew victims.
"Six kids have come forward to say that Father Henry abused them here at St. Anthony's," said Casteix to another neighbor.
"One is my classmate," said the woman who didn't want her name published.
The accused priests don't work at St. Anthony's anymore. Father Henry died in the 70's but people may still feel ashamed. Casteix wants victims to speak up now while there is a legal window to sue no matter when the abuse was.
"Victims only have less than a year left to come forward," said Casteix. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to expose abuse and people really need to take advantage of it if they want to make sure kids stay safe."
She went to 100 homes and says it's time well spent.
"I think people were very receptive to the idea of talking about abuse here at St. Anthony's because Father Henry is not the only accused priest and the more we get people comfortable with talking, the more victims will feel safe coming forward and reporting abuse," said Casteix.
About 15 lawsuits have already been filed under the current window. Three more are expected to be filed tomorrow.
The Catholic Diocese of Honolulu declined to comment on the story.