In video apology, Kamehameha Schools says institution is ‘committed to doing what is right’

Kamehameha Schools issues another apology in sex abuse case

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two Kamehameha Schools executives appear in a video released Tuesday in which the institution issues another apology for the decades-old case in which a former consulting psychiatrist from St. Francis Hospital sexually abused students.

"Over the past few weeks, our institution has been in the news related to a series of abuses that occured 40 years ago," says Micah Kane, the chairman of Kamehameha Schools' Board of Trustees. "Though this happened many years ago, in this case, time does not heal. We are here today to acknowledge our shortcomings."

The video is posted with a caption that reads: "We're committed to doing what is right, and we want you to hear it directly from us."

Over nearly three decades, from 1958 to 1985, Dr. Robert Browne sexually abused boys at Kamehameha Schools, the school has acknowledged, and victims say he made clear to them that they had to keep quiet about the assaults.

Dozens of victims have since come forward, telling similar stories, even 50 years later, about being driven by school employees to Dr. Browne's office at St. Francis Hospital and being sexually assaulted on a weekly basis – often for years.

The victims are now preparing for a courtroom battle against Kamehameha Schools and the hospital. They say they're pursuing the lawsuit because they want accountability.

"I think it's a little late in coming. I believe this could have been done a long time ago," said victim Gerald Carrell. "We spent years in infamy. Years in anonymity and in shame and all of that could have been avoided."

In an emailed statement sent out in December, attorneys for Carrell and the other victims said the "34 men who brought these lawsuits against Kamehameha Schools did so, not only to address their own wounds, but also to change the culture at Kamehameha Schools -- from arrogance and protection of the institution to transparency and protection of the children."

They added, "The apology issued (last month) is 50 years late, but it is recognition of what the school historically has ignored and represents the first step towards accountability and reconciliation."

Here's the text from Kamehameha Schools that accompanied Tuesday's video:

Aloha kakou e ka ‘ohana Kamehameha,

Mahalo to all who have taken the time to provide mana‘o over the past few weeks as we work to do what is right for the survivors of Dr. Browne and to ensure the safety and well-being of the haumana in our care.

As a Kamehameha Schools ‘ohana, our hearts are heavy with grief. Our fuller understanding of what these survivors — our friends and classmates, former students and, now, alumni — experienced and continue to struggle with today has been heart-wrenching. Your uplifted voices have motivated us to reflect even more deeply on what our founder, Ke Ali‘i Pauahi, would want us to do. We are listening to your voices and to hers, especially. She would challenge us to do better.

The suffering endured by these men and their families is a tragic example of something far too insidious in our community. As this horrific situation has shined a light on past shortcomings within our own organization, we understand that Kamehameha Schools must contribute to finding a shared solution that ends these abuses, so that no child suffers the way these survivors have.

For us, solutions and transformation start at home, here at Kamehameha Schools, where more could have been done once the abuses were discovered and reported to our administration. Here’s what we are doing to ensure that today, Kamehameha Schools is a safe place where our haumana thrive.

We have taken action in earnest pursuit of justice and healing for the survivors.

  • Our Trustees met privately months ago with individuals to hear their stories, acknowledging and apologizing, and praying together.
  • We are seeking to do what’s pono. Though the lawsuit remains, we have been focusing on resolution for these men through private mediation, and that effort continues.

We are also establishing important new tools within Kamehameha Schools to foster better visibility and accountability.

  • We are convening an independent advisory committee, comprised of experts from the community, to provide real-life perspective in the field of sex abuse and trauma from the clinical, spiritual, cultural and law enforcement points of view. Committee members will provide counsel as we continue to transform our organization and identify meaningful partnerships that can help leverage our respective kuleana and resources as a key part of a unified network of protection, care and justice for the vulnerable.
  • We are also planning to hold a series of ‘ohana meetings with parents, alumni and staff to gather more input and mana‘o. These meetings are scheduled to begin January 11, 2018.

For all of us at Kamehameha Schools, student safety is our highest priority and a core value; we continuously work to improve our systems, programs, and approaches.

  • In 2015, we created a new division called Malama Ola, dedicated solely to the safety and well-being of our keiki.
  • Malama Ola focuses on having the right people, right culture, and right systems to best protect and care for our keiki, and to ensure that harmful incidents of the past are not repeated.
  • Our Code of Conduct includes ensuring a safe learning environment as a core kuleana and highlights the accountability of a duty to report and without fear of retaliation.
  • We also have strong compliance functions that provide clear and reliable means for staff to report any incidents or situations that may harm our students, staff or the organization. Reporting protocols in this area go directly to the CEO, Trustees and Internal Audit.

Beyond such programmatic improvements, a deeper change is underway at Kamehameha Schools. We are a very different institution today than we were 40 years ago. In 2015, we embarked on a new Strategic Plan, challenging us to consider every Hawaiian child a child of Ke Ali‘i Pauahi, so that within one generation, we could fulfill a vision of a thriving lahui. This vision requires us to better support and engage with communities across the pae ‘aina, so we can collectively address the things that hurt our families and stand in their way. We adopted a new organization-wide code of conduct, updated our policies, procedures, measures, information and risk management systems so that we can better serve all of our keiki, guided by the principle that our keiki and their wellbeing — not our organization or ourselves — must always be at the center of everything we do.

Bringing justice to survivors of abuse, becoming a more accountable, stronger organization, and improving the safety and well-being of all of our keiki in our programs and throughout our community are foundational to our educational mission and Ke Ali‘i Pauahi’s vision for her people. We remain committed to these things and to bringing justice as quickly as possible to the individuals hurt by Dr. Browne.

Mahalo, again, for raising your voices. We are listening, and we are taking action.

‘O maua no me ka ha‘aha‘a,

Me ka ‘oia‘i‘o,

Jack Wong signature
Jack Wong

Micah Kane signature
Micah Kane
Chairman of the Board of Trustees


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