Multibillion-Dollar Private School Pays $80 Million for Covering Up Years of Child Abuse

February 17, 2018 Updated: February 17, 2018

A lavish private school serving often poor children of Hawaiian ancestry has agreed to pay $80 million to settle a lawsuit to 32 victims of 27 years of sexual abuse, which school officials covered up.

Kamehameha School in Honolulu, Hawaii, is valued at $11 billion, the Washington Post reported. It is named after the Hawaiian king who unified the islands and then they were endowed by the king’s last living relative. The school has been in operation since 1887.

For the past two years the school has been negotiating with 27 former students, overwhelmingly male, who were sexually abused by the school-contracted psychiatrist between 1958 and 1985.

The settlement was announced on Thursday, Feb. 15.

Children were sent to the home of Dr. Robert Browne, chief of psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital. The children were told they needed psychiatric treatment and in some cases were threatened with expulsion if they refused.

With the children trapped in his home for the weekend, Browne forced the children to submit to various sexual and psychological abuses.

Some of Browne’s victims reported the abuse, but nothing was done.

Some of the abuse victims were so traumatized they later committed suicide.

“I spent 40 years of my life in shame and in hiding, thinking that it was my fault, when it wasn’t my fault,” plaintiff Alika Bajo told a news conference on Friday, Feb. 16.

“This pain is never going to leave me,” he concluded. “I’m probably going to get therapy for the rest of my life.”

Confronted, Browne Made the Ultimate Escape

Browne held his job as the school’s psychiatrist until 1991, when one of his victims, now an adult, confronted him on the phone.

Loy was one of six brothers who attended the school. His eldest brother Dr. Lambert Lee Loy, and at least one other were also assaulted, Hawaii News Now reported.

Emmett Lee Loy, now an attorney and plaintiff in the lawsuit, called Browne at his home. Browne made no attempt to deny his actions.

“I said, ‘Remember when you used to molest me from the time I was 12 years old, telling me it was therapy, remember that?’” Loy told Hawaii News Now.

“He starts … breaking down and crying on the phone,” Loy continued. “‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m really sorry,’ doing this crybaby thing on the phone. I said, ‘You’re not sorry for what you did, you’re sorry for getting caught.’”

Loy then told Browne, ‘People are going to know about this.”

Sometime later that night, Oct. 30, 1991, Browne shot himself in the head. He was 65 at the time. 

Ongoing Coverup

The lawsuit mentions specifically four Kamehameha employees—a dorm supervisor who later became the school’s principal, two other principals, and a school doctor.

Middle School Principal Diana Lord, was a personal friend of Browne, who let the doctor use her home for some “therapy sessions.” One victim told Hawaii News Now that he told Lord he was being molested in 1966. Nothing was done.

Kamehameha Schools physician Dr. George Mills had done his residency with Browne. Mills oversaw all the referrals of children to Browne for “special treatment.”

Former Kamehameha Principal Gladys Brandt had a grandson in the school—and in Browne’s treatment. When her grandson, Christopher Conant, told her he was being abused, she took him out of the school. She did nothing about the abuse.

Anthony Ramos, who was the principal when Browne killed himself, started his employment at Kamehameha as a dorm counselor.

Abuse victim Gerald Carrell said Ramos had to have known about the abuse.

“Everybody in the dorm knew,” Carrell told Hawaii News Now. “He had to know. All of the dorm advisers had to know. They were like sitting right there when he was saying this.”

One victim went to the school health center after being abused because he was bleeding. he reported the assault to everyone up to the director of dormitories. Nothing was done.    

Michael Chun was president of Kamehameha School when Browne died. When he heard about the abuse, he called the school’s principal, Anthony Ramos.

“Basically,” Principal Ramos testified, “I said, ‘The man is dead. I don’t know what to do with this.’”

Chun said he contacted the legal department and got no response. He said no effort was made to identify other victims, and all records of students being sent to Browne were destroyed.

“I was really focusing on making no further harm, OK?” Chun said in a recorded deposition on Hawaii News Now.

For 25 years, nothing was done to help any potential victims.

An attorney asked him, during the deposition, “You could have done something?”

Chun replied, “Doing nothing is doing something, right?”


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