Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse by a Hawaii Military Chaplain Decades Ago

By Kanoe Gibson
October 4, 2012

[with video]

It was supposed to be a safe place-- the church just across the street from his home-- where a now 49-year-old Colorado man says he was sexually abused when he was an altar boy.

He's been named John Doe No. 87 and has filed suit against the Diocese of Bismarck, alleging that while his family was stationed at Fort Shafter in the early 1970s, he was sexually abused by Father Maurice McNeely.

According to the man's attorney, this is only the beginning of a series cases he will be filing in Hawaii and claims that there may be more victims in military families.

"Unfortunately, I'm seeing a pattern where priests who have been accused of abusing kids in other states were sent to Hawaii as Army chaplains and continued to abuse children there," says attorney Jeff Herman.

Father McNeely was Fort Shafter's military chaplain and priest for four years.

A recent Hawaii law went into effect in April, opening a two-year window for victims of sexual abuse to come forward, even if the statute of limitations has expired.

Herman says Hawaii is a leader in protecting children.

"By passing a window like this, Hawaii is going to be saving lives of children and allowing victims to come forward," says Herman.

The Diocese of Bismarck is named in the suit for overseeing McNeely's term here. They could not be reached for comment.

McNeely's attorney Michael Tsuchida says that McNeely denies the allegations and is confident in the civil justice system.

Fort Shafter says they cannot speculate what happened forty years ago, but that the security and safety of their soldiers and families is first and foremost. They added that the Chapel at Fort Shafter no longer exists.

Letters of support for Father McNeely have begun to pour in to KHON. Miss America 2001 Angela Baraquio Grey attended Holy Family Catholic Academy, where Father McNeely was employed. She says, "I am shocked and saddened to hear about the allegations he is currently facing. I cannot fathom the accusations being true, given the long history we have had knowing Fr. Maurice McNeely. He has been nothing but wonderful to my family and me, and I pray that the truth comes out in the end."









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