HI - Maui man files new sex abuse & cover-up suit

  • Maui man files new sex abuse & cover-up suit
  • It’s the 1st time cleric/teacher has been accused
  • And he’s the 10th alleged pedophile at Honolulu school
  • When victim reported the crimes, cleric was sent away
  • Then, Catholic officials brought him back, he retaliated & broke the victim's hand

What:
Holding signs with photos of proven and admitted child-molesting Hawaii clerics, abuse victims and their supporters will disclose a new child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against the Honolulu Catholic diocese and a never-before-exposed predator who still lives in Honolulu. The suit charges that a Catholic brother:

-- repeatedly sexually abused a Damien Memorial School student,

-- was sent away when victim reported to school officials and the bishop,

-- was brought back to the school, where he attacked victim in retaliation.

They will also:

-- Discuss the ten admitted and/or arrested clerics who worked at Damien

-- Urge victims and witnesses to report to abuse to law enforcement, not church officials, and

-- Show how a landmark new Hawaii law is helping to warn parents about predators.

Where:
Outside of Damien Memorial School, 1401 Houghtailing Street (at School Street) in Honolulu

When:
Wednesday, December 5 at 11:30 am

Who:
Two-to-three victims of child sex abuse and their supporters who are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), including a California woman who is the group's Western Regional Director.

Why:
This week, a Maui man filed a new child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against the Honolulu Catholic Diocese, Damien Memorial High School and Brother J.P. Medvit, an Irish Christian Brother and former teacher at the school. Medvit is the 10th alleged child molesting cleric who worked at Damien.

According to the suit, Medvit molested the victim in the late 1980s, when the boy was a young student. The lawsuit charges that the victim personally reported the abuse to then-principal Br. Douglas Zlatis and then-Bishop Joseph Ferrario (both of whom have also been accused of abuse).

But school and church officials never informed the police. Soon after, Medvit was sent away from the school.

Less than a year later, Medvit was brought back to Damien where he retaliated against the victim by breaking his hand. Despite this, Catholic officials let Medvit stay at the school as a teacher and spiritual counselor for 12 more years. Medvit died in August of this year.

Although school officials have known about Medvit and his crimes for decades, Damien and church officials have done little or nothing to reach out to his potential victims.

The victim in this case was able to come forward and expose Medvit because of a landmark new state law that allows all Hawaii victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and seek justice in the courts, no matter when the abuse occurred. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/07/opinion/more-time-for-justice.html?_r=0. 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. Medvit was also named as a predator in a proof of claim in the bankruptcy, which was filed before Medvit's death.

The nine other clerics who have been exposed so far as proven or alleged predators at Damien include Fr. Gerald Funcheon, Br. Robert Brouillette, Br. Thomas Ford, Br. Karl Walczak, former Bishop Joseph Ferrario, Fr. George DeCosta, Br. Lawrence Robert Christensen, Fr. Larry Spellen and Zlatis. All of them have either been arrested, sued or named in a legal claim in the Irish Christian Brothers' bankruptcy.

SNAP is urging all victims at Damien and other schools, churches, institutions, homes or elsewhere in Hawaii to come forward and get help while they have civil rights under the state's new “window” legislation. The two-year law, sponsored by Senator Maile Shimabukuro, expires in 2014.

The victims are represented by attorneys Mike Reck (714) 742-6593 mreck@andersonadvocates.com and Mark Gallagher (808) 779-5012 mgallagher@hawaiiantel.net. Copies of the lawsuit and details about each of the ten exposed predators will be available at the event.

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