HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former state lawmaker who was a key player in the decades-old sex abuse scandal involving the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says the Congressional candidate who is bringing new light to the issue deserves praise — along with the women who are speaking out.
"The senator is gone. He can't speak for himself. Let's instead focus on where we are now," said former state Rep. Annelle Amaral.
"We have these wonderful brave women standing up and creating a moment #MeToo."
On Thursday night, state Rep. Kaniela Ing, who's running for Congress, spurred widespread reaction when he tweeted: "In order for sexual violence to end, men need to know they can no longer get away with it. But when we name an airport after an accused serial rapist, we show them that they can. #TimesUpDanInouye."
Ing was responding to a television program on PBS.
Amaral says Ing's description of Inouye is accurate.
"He (Inouye) had been accused and I have said there were nine women I talked to who had told me stories of molestation and rape," she said.
In 1992, Amaral was head of the women's caucus when the Lenore Kwock scandal erupted.
Kwoch, Inouye's hairdresser, accused the senator of using his power to have sex with her.
Amaral supported Kwock and revealed that nine other anonymous women called her with similar stories and asked for confidentiality. The women also refused to file reports and a U.S. Senate Ethics panel dropped its investigation.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a candidate for governor, was Inouye's political protege and was careful with her comments Monday. She said supports the #MeToo movement, but questions Ing's motives, especially given that he voted to support renaming of Honolulu's airport in 2016.
"My first question when I heard that Rep. Ing had done this was whether or not he'd offered a resolution to undo the naming," she said.
On Friday, Ing told Hawaii News Now that he learned of the Inouye scandal after he supported the airport renaming, but has no plans to try to undo the name because of lack of support.
Also on Friday, Jennifer Sabas, the director of the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, called Ing's tweets "an attempt to smear the senator and his family's name to attract attention to his congressional campaign."