Private school in Hawaii pays $65M to sex abuse victims

HONOLULU (AP) — A private school system in Hawaii has paid $65 million to 32 people who sued the institution for sexual abuse by a psychiatric consultant decades ago.

The payment Kamehameha Schools made this week is part of the $80 million settlement reached in February after the group of people filed the lawsuit in 2016 against the school, St. Francis Medical Center and the estate of Dr. Robert Browne, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

“It was important to close this difficult chapter in the hope that this will help the survivors move forward in this painful journey,” said Jack Wong, CEO of Kamehameha.

Browne, who was the chief of psychiatry at St. Francis, treated hundreds of Kamehameha students from the late 1950s into the early 1980s. He died in 1991.

The group accused the school of negligence, claiming the defendants knew or should have known that Browne was sexually abusing them. Kamehameha does not admit to any wrongdoing with the settlement.

Kamehameha will pay the remaining $15 million upon the resolution of its cross-claim against St. Francis. The school is seeking to recoup some of the money from St. Francis, which has appealed the settlement agreement.

“We sincerely hope St. Francis finally acknowledges its role in the abuses and contributes its fair share to the settlement,” Wong said.

A St. Francis spokesman declined comment, noting the organization is in mediation talks with Kamehameha.

If the claims are not resolved by March, Kamehameha must pay $7.5 million to the group, according to the settlement. The remaining $7.5 million must be paid year later if the claims are still unresolved.

The settlement amount each victim will receive will be kept confidential, said Mark Davis, an attorney for the group.

“This long, difficult case finally is coming to an end,” Davis said.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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