Victims Sue to Prevent Abuse in Honolulu Catholic Diocese

By Ben Gutierrez
Hawaii News Now
February 22, 2013

[with video]

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Six men have filed suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, claiming they were abused by members of the clergy in Hawaii.

The lawsuit identifies the six only by their initials. But one of the men, Greg Owen, spoke out Thursday, saying that he was abused by Father Edward Mueth and Father Joseph Henry at St. Anthony's Church and School in Kailua, where he was an altar boy and student. He said the abuse began in the 1950s when he was eight years old, and has affected his adult life.

"I've been an alcoholic, and among other things I've had difficulties in relationships, in intimate relationships," said Owen, who's now a 62-year-old farmer in Pahoa.

The lawsuit names the Diocese, as well as the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the Congregation of Christian Brothers in Hawaii, and the Fathers and Brothers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. It alleges abuse in the 1950s, '60s and '70s by five Hawaii-based clergy stationed at St. Anthony's, St. Patrick's Church in Kaimuki and Damien Memorial School in Kalihi. It also alleges abuse by a teacher at St. Louis High School.

Attorneys for the men said the church in Hawaii was similar to Roman Catholic dioceses elsewhere in that it tried to hide the abuse. "It's the circle-the-wagons approach," said attorney Lee James. "It's the cover-up approach to try to protect the institution from being exposed at the expense of disrespecting the survivors."

The church had no comment on the lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages. But it also asks the church to develop policies to help victims and to prevent future abuse, including creating a hotline for victims.

"Our focus and our emphasis is on getting other victims to come forward, creating a process for victims to complain to the church and get their injuries redressed," said attorney Randall Rosenberg.

The attorneys in the case, as well as Owens, hope that the lawsuit will allow others to tell their stories.

"I'd ask those folks to step forward and seek justice and healing for yourself," said Owens.


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