A prestigious Hawaii school has agreed to pay $80 million to former students sexually abused by a psychiatrist spanning for decades.
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Kamehameha School in Honolulu, Hawaii, a well-regarded school on the islands that receives billions of dollars a year in endowments, was accused of covering up sexual abuse reported by students for 27 years from 1958 to 1985 by psychiatrist Robert Browne, The Washington Post reported.
According to reports, school officials threated students showing signs of behavioral issues that they must see a psychiatrist or risk expulsion.
Students were then driven to Browne’s office at St. Francis Hospital by teachers where they say they were drugged and sexually assaulted. In court documents, students said he would psychologically “torment” them during “weekend sleepovers” in his home.”
The lawsuit stated a handful of students came forward to school officials regarding the abuse, but were told to remain quiet and nothing was done.
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The psychiatrist killed himself in 1991, one day after one of his many victims, Emmett Lee Loy, addressed him about the abuse, Hawaii News Now reported.
The $80 million settlement will go to the 34 plaintiffs named in the suit who accused the school of “failing to protect them and covering up years of abuse.”
On Thursday, Jack Wong, the school’s CEO, apologized to the victims.
“No one was prepared for the horrific revelation that our precious haumāna (students) were secretly abused and physically and emotionally traumatized from 1962-1984 by Dr. Robert Browne, Chief of Psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital. And, after abuses were reported, not nearly enough was done. … Kamehameha Schools is deeply and truly sorry,” he said.
In the lawsuit, the victims stated they were “required” to masturbate in front of Browne, “engage in oral sex and be penetrated with objects.”
One of the victims was “raped and sodomized” by Browne when he was 11 years old, the lawsuit stated. The doctor told the boys it was “all normal.”
A few of the victims came forward stating they suffered from depression, substance abuse issues and some committed suicide following the abuse from Browne.
Loy revealed to the Hawaii News Now what he told the doctor in 1991, the day before he shot himself in the head.
“He starts … breaking down and crying on the phone,” Loy told Hawaii News Now. “‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry’ He’s doing this crybaby thing on the phone. I said, ‘You’re not sorry for what you did, you’re sorry for getting caught.’”
The school was expected to file a lawsuit against St. Francis Healthcare System, where Browne was employed, and where the victims went for “therapy.”
Gerald Carrell, one of Browne's victims, told Hawaii News Now he was proud of the men who came forward.
"People mistake the fact that we're asking for money for some kind of vendetta we have against the school, but I think a lot of people just don't understand ... I can't get those 50 years back. We can't change our past," he said.
"I'm excited that the men stood with me to do this ... that we stood together and we were strong."