Trial date set for Kamehameha Schools sex abuse case

Trial date set for Kamehameha Schools sex abuse case
Former Kamehameha Schools psychiatrist Dr. Robert Browne (file image)
Former Kamehameha Schools psychiatrist Dr. Robert Browne (file image)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A circuit court judge has set a date for trials to begin for 32 men who allege they were sexually abused by a Kamehameha Schools psychiatrist in the 1970s and '80s.

Judge Virginia Crandall set June 1, 2018, as the date that the cases can be heard in court.

The 32 men claim that Dr. Robert Browne sexually abused them while they were students at Kamehameha. Browne was the designed school psychiatrist, and the plaintiffs say when they caused disciplinary problems, they were required to see him.

"All the plaintiffs were kids. They were little boys. They didn't know any better. And they were funneled to this psychiatrist who abused them. And they were defenseless," said Peter Hsieh, an attorney for some of the plaintiffs.

"It's been a very painful, long chapter for many of them," Hsieh said. "They've had to live with this for 40 years, 40-plus years."

Browne was also head of psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital, which is also named in the lawsuit. He committed suicide in 1991 after being confronted by one of his alleged victims.

In Thursday's hearing, Judge Crandall granted a request from Kamehameha Schools for the cases to be heard individually.

In a statement, Kamehameha Schools said:

"Judge Crandall's decision today will be helpful in bringing this case to resolution. KS asked to have each case considered individually because we believe each of these men deserves his own fair hearing. The facts and circumstances around each case are different, and out of respect for the very personal nature of what the multiple-client lawsuit alleges to have occurred, we believe separate trials will provide a constructive path to resolution for each individual. It's important to affirm that keeping students safe is a high priority for Kamehameha Schools. Our policies and practices are designed to protect our students."

Even though the trials are more than two years away for the plaintiffs, "They now know that there will come a day when they will be heard in court," said Hsieh.

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