EXCLUSIVE: Teacher accused of abusing 52 boys now lives in Salt Lake

EXCLUSIVE: Teacher accused of abusing 52 boys now lives in Salt Lake
Published: Feb. 24, 2016 at 9:17 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2016 at 11:00 PM HST
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Salt Lake (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Salt Lake (Image: Hawaii News Now)

SALT LAKE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A longtime Catholic school teacher accused of molesting dozens of boys in three states for decades is living on Oahu, but his name and those of priests accused of sexual misconduct are not listed in the state's sex offender registry.

Catholic schoolteacher brother Edward Courtney is accused of sexually abusing more than 50 boys from New York to Chicago to Seattle over three decades.

"Sadly, while bad, it's not alone.  There are other priests who have molested hundreds of kids," said Michael Pfau, a Seattle-based attorney who has represented hundreds of alleged victims of Catholic clergy and teachers, including 52 men in the Courtney case.

In 2013, Courtney, 81, moved to Oahu and now lives in an apartment on Likini Street in Salt Lake.

But you won't find Courtney's name or that of any priests accused of sexual molestation in Hawaii's Sexual Offender Registry, because they were never convicted of a crime.

"Because the criminal statute of limitations expired for most of these sex crimes, very very few Catholic priests, brothers and other clerics went to jail," said Pfau, who represented 52 men who sued Courtney, claiming he abused them when they were children.

Joelle Casteix, the western regional director  of The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said, "If someone who molested 50 kids moved in next door to me, I wouldn't care if he was in a wheelchair.  I certainly would want to know."

An advocate for people sexually abused by priests, Casteix said the Catholic Church in Hawaii needs to join 30 other dioceses across the country and release a list of accused and admitted predator priests and teachers.

"Just because these men are older does not mean they stop abusing, does not mean they stop grooming kids and does not mean they're not committing crimes right now," Casteix said. "He's living in Hawaii unsupervised, unmonitored, and we know that there are at least 50 allegations against him.  But no one in Hawaii knew."

The Catholic Diocese of Honolulu released a statement that said, "The names of accused priests are already available to the public through the complaints that were filed in court, which are public record. Hawaii News Now also published these names in a story that was done on February 3. Whether the Diocese of Honolulu will formally publish these names again once mediations are completed has not been decided. Right now, our focus remains on working with the victims to provide compassionate resolution through active mediation."

In another case, people in the McCully neighborhood probably don't know that a retired Catholic school official accused of sexual abuse by a former student lives on Kalakaua Avenue.

Brother Robert Christensen, the one-time dean of students at Damien Memorial School in the 1980s, is the target of an abuse lawsuit. A former Damien student said Christensen would have him strip naked and then strike him all over his body, including his genitals.  The former student claimed the abuse happened over a three- to four-year period.

Father George DeCosta , accused by three men of sexually abusing them when they were students at Damien decades ago, lives in the Volcano area on the Big Island.  In a lawsuit, one of the men said DeCosta provided him and another student with alcohol and forced them to go skinny dipping.  The former student claimed he became "incapacitated" and when he woke up DeCosta was "masturbating" him and fondling his testicles. DeCosta, who is 78, has denied the allegations.

A mediation process for 40 Hawaii lawsuits brought against the Catholic Church and some Catholic schools by 63 plaintiffs is coming to a close. Sources said settlements in the cases are expected cost the church and schools more than $20 million.

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