‘My blood was boiling’: Outrage grows as coach accused of sex abuse continues working with minors
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A coach’s history of alleged sexual misconduct has prompted a warning from several schools to parents — while stirring new frustration among accusers.
One of those accusers is MMA star Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, who came forward in a 2020 lawsuit against former Punahou basketball coach Dwayne Yuen.
Macfarlane was one of several plaintiffs who filed suit against Punahou alleging Yuen groomed her and her sister, and sexually assaulted them when they were minors.
She took to social media to warn parents that Yuen currently coaches with the community league City High Basketball Program, an all-girls organization.
“My blood was boiling. I was triggered, in a sense, re-traumatized that, how can this known predator still be working with minors?” Macfarlane said.
“He has been able to lie and manipulate everybody into believing that he’s innocent when the reality is that we could not criminally prosecute him for anything, because the statute of limitations ended,” she added.
Hawaii basketball standout Shawna-Lei Kuehu also came forward with similar misconduct allegations.
“He has definitely benefitted from our silence and our fears and we’re grown women now and we’re not hiding in the dark corner,” Kuehu said. “But we know that there are others out there.”
Lawsuits involving Yuen were settled out of court in 2021. He was never charged.
Yuen, a former DOE employee, continued coaching various basketball teams and is still doing so today. That prompted a warning from Punahou and Kamehameha Schools to parents, alerting them of his involvement with the community program.
They cautioned parents to “carefully consider” their child’s participation. The DOE also alerted high school athletic directors and principals last month, saying he may pose a risk to student athletes.
Word of his involvement left some parents uneasy.
“If there’s any hint of that type of situation, any, I would not be comfortable at all. I would be too worried,” Shantel Saito, whose young sons play in an unrelated basketball league, said.
Yuen declined an interview, but stood by a previously released statement on the alleged acts that took place nearly 20 years ago.
“I disputed these allegations in court,” the statement said. “The cases were settled by my insurance carrier with no admission of any wrongdoing and no trial on the merits and were dismissed with prejudice on Jan. 4, 2022. This was one of several suits brought against Punahou in 2020, the others had nothing to do with my conduct.”
The statement continued:
“After I ended my employment at Punahou School I taught in the DOE from 2006-2018 and I have also coached basketball teams from 2009 until the present time. There has never been another complaint against me. My coaching is a way to volunteer and give back to the community. I do not understand Punahou’s continued attempts to discredit me and raise doubts about my conduct after such a lengthy period of time.”
City High Basketball also released a statement earlier this week standing by Yuen, saying he’s coached the team for three years and “is a valued member of the organization. We support Dwayne as a continued part of our staff.”
That support further outraged his accusers.
“His tactics, his grooming tactics, was a blueprint. Even though he was doing this to us two decades ago, it was exactly the same with the victims that came forward to me today,” Macfarlane said.
“Parents, if you are watching this, if you’re listening to this, and your daughter plays for City High Basketball, you need to pull her out of there immediately.”
Both Macfarlane and Kuehu are hopeful others will come forward calling out his alleged misconduct in the hopes of renewing chances for legal prosecution.
“You’re not alone. And that whenever you feel right, whenever it’s your turn to speak your truth and to share your story ... it’s okay, it’s going to be on your time. But I would love to be there for you to create a safe space. We believe you, there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Macfarlane said.
Kuehu added, “I’m a mother now and an adult and it’s my responsibly to warn as many parents as I can, so that their children don’t have to ever go through this with anyone.”
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- Another standout athlete files suit against Punahou, alleging sexual assault
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