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State seeks again to get ‘Peter Boy’ suit thrown out in tactic that could add another 2 years to case

Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 4:21 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The civil lawsuit filed by the sisters and brother of “Peter Boy” Kema is stalled again because the state is appealing a recent ruling that the case can proceed.

The process could add another two years to the case.

The state wanted the case thrown out, saying the family filed the suit too late. They insisted the statute of limitations ran out because the boy died in 1997.

But the judge sided with the sister and brother of the Hilo boy who said the clock didn’t start ticking until after they knew the child was dead ― when their mother, Jaylin Kema, confessed in court in 2016. Her husband, Peter Kema, Jr., later admitted he killed the boy and dumped his remains in the ocean.

Randall Rosenberg, attorney for the Kema children, said up until that point the boy was still considered missing.

“We explained that it wasn’t our clients’ fault, that the information which would have allowed them to file a complaint did not exist until the confession of the parents as to what happened to Peter Boy,” Rosenberg said.

The children all suffered various levels of abuse by the father, but Peter Boy suffered the most and the others witnessed his slow and painful death ― from an untreated wound that became infected over months.

Rosenberg said Child Welfare Services, which is under the state Department of Human Services, could have prevented his death.

“The main claim against the state is that they had two chances to save Peter Boy and they completely blew it and they know that they did,” said Rosenberg.

Two separate reports of abuse in 1997 from two different people were ignored. By the time an investigator from DHS started working on the report, Peter Boy was already gone.

Rosenberg anticipates this will be a costly settlement for the state and, he said, the longer the delays, the higher the bill will be for taxpayers.

The state Attorney General’s office, which is fighting the lawsuit, said it could not comment on pending litigation.

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