Kamehameha Schools Faces a Spate of Sex Abuse Claims

Honolulu Civil Beat

April 24, 2020

By Yoohyun Jung

At least 16 plaintiffs are named in six lawsuits. Other schools also have been sued in the weeks leading up to a deadline Friday.

Kamehameha Schools, endowed by the state’s largest private landowner to educate children of Hawaiian descent, faces a new wave of sex abuse claims from former students coming forward just before the statutory deadline to file such lawsuits.

At least six lawsuits involving 16 plaintiffs filed in recent weeks include new claims against Dr. Robert Browne, the disgraced psychiatrist whose abuse of students already led the school to pay $80 million in a settlement, as well as newly accused teachers, an administrator and dorm advisors from the 1970s and ‘80s.

The teachers and staff are accused of abusing their positions of power to sexually molest and assault students, in some cases giving them alcohol or illicit drugs to facilitate their abuse. The plaintiffs say the school turned a blind eye.

In 2012, the Legislature approved a statute allowing victims to file civil claims against their abusers long after the statute of limitations had passed. The time limit had been extended every two years until this year, when another extension was going to be considered. Then the COVID-19 pandemic put the Legislature into an abrupt recess.

Now, with the window closing Friday and no extension in the works, attorneys have been flocking to the courts to file new claims against Kamehameha Schools and other institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church and a few other schools.

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