Hanna Boys Center abuse survivor speaks publicly after $6.8 million settlement

Press Democrat

June 26, 2019

By Mary Callahan

He left his abuser behind when he departed Hanna Boys Center, a graduate at 18, onto another life.

But the anguish of what happened — six years of sexual abuse at the hands of his case worker at the Sonoma Valley residential facility for troubled boys — nearly took him down anyway.

“It was a very, very dark feeling,” said Robert Kennedy, 25, identified until Wednesday in civil and criminal court proceedings only as a John Doe.

His abuser, Kevin Scott Thorpe, who was promoted to clinical director at Hanna months before his June 2017 arrest, is now serving 21 years in state prison in the San Joaquin Valley. Kennedy, one of his victims, kept his story to himself until coming forward two years ago, detailing his claims to law enforcement and later filing a civil suit against Thorpe.

“I felt like I was suffering in silence, and if I did speak that it wouldn’t even matter,” Kennedy said. “That’s what I kept telling myself.”

On Wednesday the Santa Rosa man spoke for the first time outside of court about his experience, standing at a press conference outside the Hanna Boys Center and later in an exclusive interview. The account he shared followed news on Tuesday that he and his brother, another of Thorpe’s victims, had reached a $6.8 million settlement in their pair of lawsuits against Hanna Boys Center and the affiliated Santa Rosa Diocese of the Catholic Church.

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