A second lawsuit has been filed by dozens of former Kamehameha Schools students who claimed they were sexually molested by a psychiatrist for decades.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday morning against Kamehameha Schools, the Estate of Dr. Robert McCormick Browne, Saint Francis Medical Center (SFMC), and Kuakini Health System (KHS), formerly known as Kuakini Medical Center.
Twenty-six plaintiffs — 24 of which were full-time students at the school, including boarders — allege that between the years of 1958 to 1985, they were abused and molested by Browne, who was the school’s designated psychiatrist at the time.
According to the lawsuit:
“For approximately 27 years, from 1958 through 1985, KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS referred, transported, and submitted hundreds of its young male students to DR. BROWNE at the SFMC and/or KHS for behavioral and/or psychological adjustment, evaluation, treatment, and/or therapy on a weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, or twice monthly basis (“Office Sessions”).
KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS also approved, designated, and/or facilitated DR. BROWNE as a Dorm Sponsor, which authorized him to take physical custody of KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS boarding students, including the Plaintiffs, from their dormitories and keep them in his home in Manoa for weekend sleep-overs where he drugged and committed further sexual abuse against the Plaintiffs and other KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS students (“Home Sessions”).”
“In many instances, what this doctor did to them was their first sexual experience. They were terrified, and it went on for years and years,” said attorney Michael Green. “As they went through life, when I met with them, they all explained almost the same symptoms over the years: rage, fear, alcohol, sometimes drugs.”
The lawsuit claims Kamehameha Schools selected Browne to provide the therapy, paid for the services, paid for the prescription medications prescribed by Browne, and transported each of the patients to and from his office, all during a time in which Browne continually and repeatedly sexually abused the children.
Browne died in 1991, shortly after the first allegations surfaced.
Among the plaintiffs, attorneys claim two committed suicide as a result of these injuries and are represented by family members.
Hanalei resident Blake Conant said his younger brother, Christopher Conant, revealed what happened just one month before his death in April 2011.
“He was sent to Dr. Browne because we were told, I was told that he had a transition issue from living on Kauai to going into the boarding department, and he had to go to see Dr. Browne to make that transition smoother,” Conant said. “I was in high school, he was down there (in prep school), and the only time we saw each other was on weekends, and I literally saw a change in him. All of a sudden, here’s a young man, four years younger than I, and all of a sudden, he was like, his eyes were half-masked. It was like he was in a stupor, and he would just sit at breakfast with my grandmother and my mother and I in a zone. I just couldn’t connect the dots.
“I’m here today to represent him, to ask two things. That the people that were responsible for keeping our young men safe have consequences, and the second thing is that it never, ever happens again, anywhere,” Conant said.
Tuesday’s lawsuit is similar to one filed in 2014, though with a notable difference.
“Almost all of the 26 people have agreed to come forward and pursue this thing under their own names,” said attorney Mark Davis. “They do so, and attend this press conference, with some trepidation to their own personal embarrassment associated with this, but they do so because they recognize that this is a problem that requires a human face, and it requires an act of responsibility and accountability for Kamehameha Schools.”
According to Peter Hsieh, attorneys requested that the first lawsuit be dismissed, as it was filed just as the statute of limitations on the filing of child sex and molestation cases was set to expire. That deadline was later extended.
On Tuesday, KHON2 received the following statements in response.
“The claims we are hearing about today are the same that were made in the lawsuit that was originally filed in 2014. We continue to be troubled and saddened by this matter. The safety and welfare of our students is Kamehameha’s highest priority. We are working to resolve this matter in the best interests of everyone involved.”
St. Francis Healthcare System:
“We have yet to see the complaint and allegations, so it is premature to make any formal or substantive statement. When we are served, we will review and evaluate the allegations with our legal counsel.”