HONOLULU (AP) — A private school system in Honolulu has agreed to pay $80 million to the victims of a doctor accused of sexually abusing students and other patients for decades.
Kamehameha Schools has also agreed to create new safeguards and methods to report abuse in the tentative settlement agreement reached with 32 plaintiffs.
Dozens of victims of Robert Browne filed lawsuits against the school, St. Francis Medical Center and Browne’s estate, claiming negligence and other charges for not protecting them from abuse.
Browne, who was the chief of Psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital, worked as a consultant for the school and treated hundreds of Kamehameha students from the late 1950s into the early 1980s. He died in 1991.
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The victims later reported being subjected to weekly sexual abuse, sometimes lasting for years, and had criticized the school’s handling of it.
School CEO Jack Wong issued an apology to the victims in December, saying not enough was done after the abuse was reported.
While the settlement amount is impressive, the money won’t erase the damages to the victims, attorney Michael Green told Hawaii News Now. Green represented a number of the victims.
Micah Kane, chairman of the school’s board, said the settlement provided the opportunity to reconcile.
“It was an emotional journey for everyone involved on both sides of the table,” Kane said. “While we brought closure, it’s something we’re going to carry for a long period of time. We’re not going to forget this time and what the trust experienced.”
Kamehameha Schools has agreed to set up an independent hotline for people to anonymously report wrongdoing at the school. It has also agreed to create a recovery fund to cover medical expenses for students who experience sexual assault.
The agreement still requires court approval.