EXCLUSIVE: Most allegations in Hawaii Catholic Church sex abuse scandal came from 2 locations

EXCLUSIVE: Most allegations in Hawaii Catholic Church sex abuse scandal came from 2 locations
Published: Feb. 3, 2016 at 9:28 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2016 at 10:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Catholic church in Kailua and a school in Kalihi are the two locations that generated the most allegations about priests and teachers sexually abusing students decades ago, a Hawaii News Now investigation has revealed.

The accusations have been made by 63 people against 26 priests, teachers and others.

Altogether, 40 lawsuits make claims against 18 schools and churches across the state.

Saint Anthony Church in Kailua and Damien Memorial School in Kalihi have recorded the highest number of sexual abuse complaints: 21 each from the 1950s through the mid 1980s, according to court documents.

And the man accused the most of sexual abuse is the late Father Joseph Henry, a pillar in the Kailua community.

A total of 18 men have alleged in lawsuits Henry molested them from 1952 to 1972; most of those incidents allegedly occurred at Saint Anthony Church in Kailua.

Abuse victims -- including former altar boys -- said Henry and other Saint Anthony priests would sometimes give them money from the collection plates after having sex with them.

Saint Anthony Church named its former main church building after Henry, but in October removed the plaque with his name "in the spirit of compassion and respect for these victims of abuse," a church spokeswoman said.

Henry was the pastor and superintendent of St. Anthony Church and School until he died in 1974.

Meanwhile, a review of lawsuits revealed that Brother Robert Brouillette, a religion and history teacher at Damien, was accused of abuse in seven cases between 1972 and 1987.

Father James Jackson has been accused of abusing boys in five cases between 1955 and 1981 at Saint Anthony Church and Maryknoll School.

One lawsuit said Jackson underwent at least 10 years of treatment for his sexual interest in young boys with Dr. Robert Browne, the former director of the psychiatric clinic at St. Francis Hospital who himself has been accused of being a pedophile.

About 30 men – nearly all of them former Kamehameha Schools students -- said Browne sexually abused them and have filed suit against Kamehameha.

Loretta Sheehan, one of the attorneys representing the alleged abuse victims from Kamehameha, said, "It sounds like they were clueless. Sending a pedophilia priest to a pedophile, for what? Conversation? Trading tips?I mean, it's insane. It's actually depressing."

Jackson died in 2005. Browne, the psychiatrist, fatally shot himself after he was confronted by one of his victims in 1991.

The lawsuits also show that Father Joseph Ferrario was accused of sexually abusing boys in five cases between 1969 and 1981, most of them at Saint Anthony Church. All of the alleged incidents happened before he became bishop and headed the Catholic Church in Hawaii from 1982 to 1993.

Ferrario died in 2003.

The lawsuits claim three instances of sexual abuse at Maryknoll School in Honolulu and two at St. Stephen's Seminary.

At least 30 of 40 sex abuse lawsuits have been settled by the Catholic Church so far. Sources said the Catholic Church and accused schools are expecting to pay roughly $20 million to settle those 40 lawsuits in mediation. The third and final round of mediation is scheduled to wrap up later this month.

Representatives of the Catholic Church and attorneys for the alleged victims declined comment, since mediator Keith Hunter has asked them to refrain from speaking to the media about their cases until the mediation process is complete.

David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he hopes the settlements will "prompt more victims, witnesses and whistle blowers to come forward and get help and expose predators and protect kids."

While criminal statutes of limitations have long expired on the abuse cases reported from the 1950s through the 1980s, the window on civil abuse lawsuits was reopened by the state Legislature from April 2012 through April 2014.  Lawmakers then extended the window another two years until April 24, 2016.

About 26 men have been accused of sexual abuse in the Hawaii lawsuits. All but 10 of the alleged abusers were dead as of the first deadline for filing sex abuse lawsuit in April of 2014, according to a Hawaii Catholic Herald news story about the lawsuits.

All the diocesan bishops during the period of the alleged abuse are also dead, the Herald reported.

The Hawaii Catholic Herald said the alleged abusers include 15 priests, eight religious brothers, two lay teachers and one seminarian.

Of the 63 alleged victims, all but three were male.

The Catholic Diocese of Honolulu has established procedures to respond promptly to any allegations, the Herald reported.

In addition, the Herald said, the bishop requires all priests coming to work in Hawaii from elsewhere have a "letter of suitability" from their home bishop or religious superior, assuring they have not mistreated children.

The diocese has also a safe environment director on staff who oversees mandatory criminal background screenings for clergy, other employees, and volunteers.

The church requires safe environment training for all church workers, school teachers and volunteers who deal with children. It also has a safe environment training curriculum for children and youth in parish programs and Catholic schools.


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