Friday, November 09, 2012
Sexual harassment case filed against Damien Memorial School under Hawaii’s new open-window law
by Larry Geller
A lawsuit was filed in state court Wednesday (11/7/2012) under Act 68, a Hawaii law passed this year that extends the statute of limitations for civil actions brought by a person subjected to sexual offenses as a minor against the person who committed the act.
The law opens a two-year window within which accusations may be filed.
It can take victims of sexual abuse many years to become able to pursue a case in court. During that time, short state statutes of limitation have long expired, and victims have to bear the burden of their abuse far into adulthood.The Roman Catholic Church was the principal opponent of the Hawaii law and has worked hard in other states to prevent enactment of laws similar to Hawaii´s. Only California and Delaware have passed similar laws.
The new law permitted two Honolulu men to accuse a former Damien Memorial School teacher of sexual abuse and charge that the school and the Honolulu Catholic Diocese engaged in a cover-up. The alleged offenses took place in 1984 and 1986.
According to the allegations, Br. Robert Brouillette, an Irish Christian Brother and former teacher at the school, was removed from Damien for abuse allegations, but parents and students were never informed. He has allegedly molested at least 12 children in five states and was convicted of possessing child pornography.
Brouillette is believed to be living near St. Louis, Missouri according to the sex offender registry, as noted by SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) representatives visiting Honolulu yesterday (11/8/2012). They also reported:
Separate from the lawsuit, the Irish Christian Brothers, a New York-based Catholic religious order that runs Damien, declared bankruptcy in 2011 to avoid costly and public child sex abuse civil trials. http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/16904070/group-says-child-predators-worked-at-catholic-school. Both victims also filed claims against Brouillette in the bankruptcy. According to attorneys, sixteen victims from Damien have come forward as a result.
For further details, refer to a copy of the complaint below. Resources are available at the SNAP website here. Two members of SNAP offered information to the press on the Hawaii case outside Damien Memorial School yesterday.
The SNAP representatives warned:
This is just the latest in a string of scandals at Damien Memorial School. Last week, a former Damien principal was forced to step down from his job in Seattle due to allegations of abuse. Br. Karl Walczak, Damien principal from 1987-1999, was accused of abuse while he was a teacher at an Irish Christian Brother school in Chicago. The alleged victim filed a claim in July, but Irish Christian Brother and Archdiocese officials did not disclose the allegations until Halloween. SNAP and parents were outraged at the delay in disclosure.
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/ODea-High-School-principal-resigns-amid-sex-abuse-allegations-176692501.html?tab=video&c=y . A lawsuit against former Damien chaplain Fr. Gerald Funcheon was filed in May. http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/561462/Lawsuit-claims-abuse-by-former-Honolulu-priest.html?nav=5031 .
SNAP is urging all victims at the school to come forward and get help while they have civil rights under Hawaii's new window legislation. The two-year law, sponsored by Senator Maile Shimabukuro, expires in 2014.
The Maui news article refers to the first case filed under Hawaii’s law:
The lawsuit filed in Circuit Court in Honolulu on Thursday [May 24, 2012] claims that the then-13-year-old boy was a freshman when he was abused during an overnight retreat by the Rev. Gerald Funcheon, a former chaplain and teacher at Damien Memorial School.
Download 12-1-2771-11 John Roe v. Christian Brothers et al-OCR from Disappeared News (this is an OCR copy and may contain errors—do not rely upon it)