Church & Priest Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Hawaii
Recently, with the help of the Hawaii Legislature, the Catholic Church in Hawaii has had to answer to victims of child sex abuse in civil suits. Stories have emerged about the decades of horrors of clergy abuse in the parishes of Hawaii.
Now, sexual abuse survivors are able to have their day in court when they are victims of clergy sex abuse.
While the Church has settled dozens of lawsuits filed against it, there are more new ones being filed each month against the Church.
Nearly all of these court cases claim that church officials and the Bishop knew about the abuse and did nothing other than cover it up and fail to report it.
Even though the state’s diocese adopted reforms in an attempt to clean up its act, there are still hundreds of victims who suffered at the hands of the Church which failed at its basic duty of protection of minors.
Hawaii Sexual Assault Lawyer
Our law firm has worked with victims of sexual abuse as they seek to receive financial compensation in civil claims for the sexual exploitation that they endured at the hands of a priest or other clergy member.
To file your abuse claim, you, or your loved one, will need to reconstruct what happened to prove your case in court.
You will likely need the help of a Hawaii clergy sexual abuse lawyer who can discuss your legal options and gather the evidence and testimony needed to make your case a strong one.
Call our personal injury legal team today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule your free consultation for legal advice. Let our law firm begin the process of filing a sexual assault lawsuit.
The Hawaii Catholic Diocese
The Diocese of Honolulu covers the entire state of Hawaii. It is part of the ecclesiastical province of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Roughly 20% of about 250,000 Hawaii’s residents are Catholics. Hawaiin Roman Catholics are the single largest religious group of all faiths statewide.
The Diocese of Honolulu and its Bishop manage eighty-six parishes and thirty-eight parochial schools in five counties son the Hawaiian Islands.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu
51184 Bishop St
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 585-3300
Bishop Clarence “Larry” Silva
Hawaii’s Church Survivors of Sexual Abuse History
The Diocese of Honolulu has had several factors that have contributed to it being one of the worst dioceses in the United States when it comes to sexual abuse of minors.
The first is that like several other dioceses in the Western United States, Hawaii was a “dumping ground” for priests from other areas who were accused of sexual abuse, but their Bishops did not want to involve law enforcement.
Roman Catholic officials viewed Hawaii as a place where troubles priests could escape the harm that they visited on children on the mainland and viewed the relative isolation of Hawaii as something that could be used to their advantage.
Instead of reporting the crime, these Bishops simply moved them out-of-state where they could prey on other children for a long time period.
The second factor that prevented the Diocese of Honolulu from taking strong action against sexual predators in the diocese was the fact that the diocesan Bishop was an accused sexual predator.
Bishop Joseph Anthony Ferrario was one of the first major Roman Catholics to be publicly accused of sexual abuse as the former altar boy went on national television to discuss the alleged abuse.
The Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled that the Bishop could not face criminal charges and be prosecuted as a defendant due to the statute of limitations.
In other words, diocesan officials may have been compromised themselves and could not act to protect young people. They engaged in a cover-up to protect their own at the expense of their victims.
New Abuse Civil Lawsuits in Hawaii
The Diocese continues to face new abuse lawsuits by alleged victims. The abuse problem in the diocese was so severe that a law firm compiled a 50-page booklet with a list of sixty Hawaii priests that have been accused of child abuse.
However, hundreds of priests may have been left off of this list of accused priests. The Pennsylvania grand jury report that has been the basis of many public investigations of Roman Catholics states that over 1,000 children in Hawaii were abused by more than 300 priests.
The Hawaii Senate has debated a resolution that would require Attorney General Clare Connors to investigate Hawaii clergy and issue a new report.
While the Diocese did move to a zero-tolerance policy much earlier than other Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the country, there are still decades worth of sexual abuse history of the Church to address and scores of victims who deserve financial compensation for the exploitation that they have suffered.
The Hawaii Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations
The Hawaii Legislature has waived statutes of limitations law for childhood sexual abuse cases three different times since April 2014.
Each time, the Legislature victims a two-year window in which to file their lawsuit, changing the statute to help victims who were previously kept from filing lawsuits due to time limits.
The most recent waiver of the statute of limitations expired in April 2020. Numerous new lawsuits were filed before then with talk that the legislature will pass a fourth waiver of the statute to further give every victim of child sexual abuse even more time to file lawsuits.
However, when many recent extensions expired this past April, there was no renewal passed. Instead, the Hawaii Legislature is considering changing the current statute in sex abuse cases from eight years past the victim’s 18th birthday to fifty years past that birthday.
For now, the statute of limitations waiver has expired and there is no current move to extend it again.
The COVID-19 pandemic seemingly put an end to the efforts to extend this window again. However, before the waiver expired, there were a number of cases filed in advance of the deadline.
Hawaii is the only state in the country to extend its statute of limitations three times, but it may serve as a model for states like New York and New Jersey that have passed one waiver period but may try new laws to add even more time for victims abused by Catholic priests to sue for compensation.
Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Damages in Clergy Abuse Cases
When you file a civil case for the misconduct that victimized you, there are a number of damages to which you are entitled. You deserve to be placed in the same position as if you never suffered abuse at the hands of the Roman Catholics.
Lawsuit damages in clergy abuse cases may include:
- Pain and suffering for the emotional trauma that has been a part of your life since the sexual abuse occurred
- Any out-of-pocket medical expenses including the cost of medical and psychological/psychiatric care
- Lost earnings if the effects of the sexual abuse keep you from working or earning your full potential
- Possible punitive damages when the diocese’s conduct was egregious
Hire a Child Sex Abuse Lawyer
Our Hawaii sexual abuse injury lawyers will provide immediate legal advice on how to file your civil claim. Our lawyers understand that this is not an easy process for you to become a plaintiff in a civil sexual abuse suit.
We will work with you with sensitivity while we also fight hard for you to receive the compensation that you deserve.
Your legal rights are important to our law firm. From your first phone call to us, we will provide you with the information needed to file your court case. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free confidential consultation to obtain justice.
Our sexual assault injury attorneys can begin the process of filing a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Honolulu. All information you discuss with us remains confidential in an attorney-client relationship.