On Tuesday, December 4, my office filed our fourth civil lawsuit for a fifth Plaintiff under Hawaii’s new window law allowing victims of childhood sexual abuse to file claims without regard to a statute of limitations until April 24, 2014. This latest case, on behalf of a man who was abused by a Christian Brother when he was 15 years-old, is a very good example of why it is important to allow adults who were abused as children to finally have a chance at justice for themselves and accountability for those who abused them and covered it up.
As is the generally the case in these lawsuits, they can be filed without identifying the name of the victim/survivor. In this latest case the person we are representing is identified as John Roe 5.
John Roe 5 was abused by Brother J.P. Medvit in 1986 when he was 15 years old and a freshman at Damien Memorial High School in Honolulu. Roe 5 told his football coach, and Damien’s principal, Brother Zlatis, right after the abuse occurred. But Damien officials did not report the abuse to the police. Instead, they chose to report it up the chain to the office of the Bishop. When then Bishop Ferrario of the Diocese of Honolulu heard about what happened, he met with Roe 5 and his family, and sent Br. Medvit away. However, Bishop Ferrario chose not to take any real action against Br. Medvit and eventually allowed him to return to Damien Memorial, where he hunted down Roe 5 and broke his hand in a brutal attack of revenge. Incredibly, Damien Memorial High School then allowed Br. Medvit to continue to teach and work for another 12 years, until 1998.
To date, neither Br. Medvit nor those responsible for his supervision and assignments have ever been held accountable for Br. Medvit’s known abuse. In fact, in 2010, Br. Medvit was honored at a Golden Jubilee Celebration in recognition of his 50 years as a Christian Brother. He later died in 2012.
Roe 5’s case highlights the systemic and prolonged problem of child sexual abuse at Damien Memorial High School. Br. Medvit is the 10th known perpetrator exposed at the Honolulu school.
The other 9 clerics previously accused of childhood sexual abuse as teachers or clerics at Damien Memorial include:
Father Gerald Funcheon
Brother Robert Brouillette
Brother Karl Walczak
Bishop Joseph Ferrario
Father George DeCosta
Brother Lawrence Robert Christensen
Father Larry Spellen
Brother Douglas Zlatis
We are saddened by the survivors reports and the continuing exposure of predators at Damien and elsewhere in Hawaii. Yet, we are encouraged that these survivors are now able to seek justice, truth, and healing under Hawaii’s window law. If you or anyone close to you has questions about the perpetrators exposed at Damien or the Hawaii window law, feel free to contact us at Jeff Anderson & Associates by calling 651-227-9990 or toll free at 888-567-5557.
To find out more information, please visit www.abusedinhawaii.com
Jeff Anderson is an attorney and advocate working with survivors of clergy sexual abuse at Jeff Anderson & Associates.