Lawsuit against parents of ‘Peter Boy,’ state faces issue of time

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The siblings of “Peter Boy” Kema say the state of Hawaii played a big factor in his death.

They filed a lawsuit against Kema’s parents, Peter Kema Sr. and Jaylin Kema, as well as the state Department of Human Services.Click here to read the lawsuit in its entirety.

Attorney Randall Rosenberg represents the estate of Peter Boy Kema and his three siblings: Chauntelle, Allan, and Lina.

“There was clear child abuse,” he said. “They continued to look towards reunification. Even after they returned Peter Boy to the family, they received information about significant and severe child abuse, and took no action in a timely fashion to intervene.”

The lawsuit lists a specific date. In April 1997, a cousin told a state worker that Peter Kema Sr. broke Peter Boy’s arm.

State records verify the report, but it was not assigned to a Child Protective Services worker until June.

By that time, Peter Boy was missing.

Kema finally plead guilty to his son’s death in 2017.

Chauntelle, Allan, and Lina Acol are now past their mid-20s. Rosenberg says Chauntelle Acol is a mother living in Florida, while Allan and Lina Acol are working professionals in Kona.

They’re doing well, but the past still haunts them.

“They’re doing remarkably well given the circumstances and the things they have been through. They got some closure from the criminal matters in the plea agreements. It helped quite a bit. I think this process will also aid in the closure and healing process for them,” explained Rosenberg.

The siblings are suing their parents and the state, claiming Child Protective Services didn’t do enough to protect their brother.

The attorney general’s office requested transcripts from Peter Kema’s plea agreement in 2017. A spokeswoman says it’s part of its due diligence in litigating the lawsuit.

But there’s a roadblock, “and that is the question of time. What is the time period in which this claim needed to be filed?” said Rosenberg.

The wrongful death statute of limitations runs out after two years.

It’s been more than 20 years since Peter Boy disappeared, though his father only admitted to killing him in 2017.

Ken Lawson, an associate faculty specialist at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, says it’ll be a close case. The state can argue that the siblings knew of Peter Boy’s death years ago, and never brought the claim.

Still, Lawson said, “Child Protective Services. Child. Protective. Services. How did you protect this child when you were notified numerous times that he needed protecting? Instead of protecting, ‘Child Protective Services,’ you sent him back to the parent they needed protection from. There’s evidence in the files that indicate this is exactly what you did.”

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