Group says child predators worked at Catholic school
KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the 1950s, Brother Thomas Cuthbert Ford pleaded guilty to beating a boy in a New Jersey orphanage. He was Damien Memorial School's dean from 1972 to 1975.
Brother Robert Brouilette was convicted of child porn after he taught religion and history at Damien in the seventies and eighties.
Father Gerald Funcheon was Damien's chaplain and counselor from 1982 to 1984, and the subject of three child sex assault lawsuits on the mainland.
"These men were predators. They're superiors knew that they were predators," said Joelle Casteix, western regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Two of the three men were members of the Christian Brothers of Ireland. The Catholic order runs schools in the United States.
Damien president Bernard Ho said the allegations are disturbing, but SNAP has no proof Damien students were harmed.
"Since I've been here, I have never heard any past indication of problems here," he said.
SNAP is looking for victims.
"I am alleging that there was a tremendous risk of abuse at Damien," Casteix said.
"We have a proud history of 50 years of success," Ho said. "Talk to our alumnus. They've never felt threatened here. We have a great track record."
SNAP confirmed the three men worked at Damien through old yearbooks. Ford died in 2008. Brouilette and Funcheon's whereabouts are unknown.
SNAP said the Christian Brothers declared bankruptcy to shield against potential lawsuits against the men.
"They already know that they have outstanding sex abuse cases around the country that will put them over the edge," former priest Patrick Wall said.
Ho said the school may do its own investigation. Today, Damien faculty and coaches are fingerprinted and screened and take courses on sex abuse.
"There's no doubt in my mind that Damien is a very safe environment and we will do everything to continue to keep it that way," he said.
SNAP wants any Damien student who studied under the three men and may have been abused to contact authorities.
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