New window allows sex abuse victims to file claims from decades ago

Report details depth of sex abuse, cover up by clergy in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Adults who were victims of sex abuse as children have another chance to come forward and make claims under a new, two-year window for civil lawsuits.

Similar openings ended with dozens of pedophiles being exposed.

It also revealed "cover-ups" by multiple schools, churches, and non profits.

That's exactly what a new Hawaii report released Wednesday seeks to spotlight, describing in detail 58 men of the cloth recently accused even though the alleged abuse happened decades ago.

Some have died and some are still in the community.

The list of 58 was compiled by the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates, based on the mainland, and the Law Office of Mark Gallagher, a Kailua attorney.

The research was the result of laws that temporarily blocked statutes of limitations, allowing victims to come forward and make claims, no matter how much time had passed.

The new window that opened Tuesday is the result of a recently-passed law, which gives victims until April of 2020 to file civil suits.

Since 2012, most of the claims have been connected to the Diocese of Honolulu.

"This report contains a lot of very ugly and scary information," said victims' advocate Joelle Casteix, at a news conference Wednesday, "Men who never would have been exposed if we had not allowed survivors to use the one thing they have, their voice."

The previous window also exposed Dr. Robert Browne, the psychiatrist who sexually boys at Kamehameha Schools over a 30-year period ending in the 1980s. Browne also treated priests for pedophilia.

Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea also settled a court claim.

June Johnson Cleghorn came forward in 2014, saying a teacher abused her for six years, starting when she was 14 years old and boarding at the school.  That claim was settled in 2016.

Cleghorn gives HPA credit for allowing her to publicly talk about the case and inviting her to educate current faculty and students.

"The intent was to end the secrecy surrounding this abuse," she said.

State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, who introduced the legislation to reopen the window, says the #MeToo movement, USA gymnastics, and other massive scandals around the country prompted Hawaii lawmakers to pass the bill after several, previous failures.

Gallagher thinks the momentum will prompt many more to speak out in the next two years that the window provides.

"The different groups of survivors are finding their strength and their finding their supporters," he said.

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