The first of what may be dozens of child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits was filed yesterday under an unusual new Hawaii law.
That measure lets adults who were molested as kids take legal action even decades after the violations took place.
An Oahu resident and former Damien Memorial High School student sued the Diocese of Honolulu charging that he was sexually assaulted as a child by Fr. Gerald Funcheon, a Crosier priest and former Damien chaplain in 1983 and 1984. The alleged crimes happened on an overnight retreat with the cleric on the Oahu eastern shore when the victim was 13 years old.
According to public documents and the lawsuit, church officials already knew that Funcheon was abusing prescription drugs and alcohol and had allegations of inappropriate behavior with children well before he was sent to Damien. http://www.abusedinhawaii.com/documents%5CFuncheon_partial.pdf
“This is a classic case of ‘priest-dumping,'” said Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), the nation’s largest support group for men and women who have been abused in religious and institutional settings. “Church officials knew that Funcheon was a predator, but still gave him complete access to vulnerable kids. They also made sure that Funcheon was sent far away, to escape prosecution and deny his victims justice. You can’t get much further away from mainland law enforcement than Hawaii.”
The victim first came forward as a part of the Irish Christian Brothers bankruptcy. The bankruptcy allowed sex abuse victims at all Irish Christian Brothers schools—including Damien Memorial—until August 1, 2012 to come forward and expose their abusers. At least five molesting clerics worked at the school. http://www.k5thehometeam.com/story/16904070/group-says-child-predators-worked-at-catholic-school?clienttype=mobile
“We never would have learned about Funcheon and other child molesters who worked at Damien if brave victims had not come forward under the bankruptcy and the civil window,” Casteix said. “The diocese didn’t warn parents about the gross risk and did nothing to protect kids.”
Two Funcheon victims have come forward from Palma School in Salinas, CA, where Funcheon was immediately sent after allegations came forward at Damien. Both have filed lawsuits against the Crosiers. http://www.montereyherald.com/ci_20611521/palma-alumnus-alleges-abuse-reaches-out-other-possible?source=most_viewed. More than a dozen victims from across the country have alleged that Funcheon sexually abused them.http://bishop-accountability.org/priestdb/PriestDBbylastName-F.html
According to Funcheon’s personnel file, the priest was removed and sent to California when a parent alleged that Funcheon was abusing kids at Damien. According to the documents, the cleric also worked in numerous Honolulu-area parishes during the weekends. The documents may be viewed here: http://www.abusedinhawaii.com/documents%5CFuncheon_partial.pdf
“This cover-up and reckless disregard for child safety should be a wake-up call to parents across Hawaii,” Casteix said. “Instead of calling the cops and getting help for the kids who were hurt, officials at Damien and the Honolulu Diocese silenced victims and spirited Funcheon out of town. That kind of cover-up is criminal. We hope this lawsuit shines a bright light on sneaky, back-handed tactics that protected predators instead of kids.”
Funcheon’s last known address was a church-run facility in Missouri, where he apparently lived with Robert Brouillette, an Irish Christian Brother and former Damien teacher who was convicted of child pornography in 2000. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/1999_12_04_Presecky_CatholicBrother.htm
“Our experience has shown us time and time again that although church officials claim that these facilities are ‘secure’ and ‘monitored,’ that’s just not true,” said Barb Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s Outreach Director. “Funcheon may be just as free to hurt children now as he was in Hawaii, California and the other states where he abused kids.”
Casteix also says that the civil window is an anti-crime measure that will help keep kids safe right now. “Soon, we will learn what the diocese knew and when they knew it. We also hope that younger victims will find the strength to come forward and report, so that law enforcement can make arrests and get convictions.”
In California and Delaware, civil window laws exposed hundreds of predators and help law enforcement put predators behind bars. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/11_12/2007_12_04_Spano_ExPriest.htm
The victim is represented by Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson (651) 227-9990, firstname.lastname@example.org; and California attorney Mike Reck (714) 742-6593, email@example.com. Copies of the lawsuit are available on the website http://www.abusedinhawaii.com/Hawaii_Abuse_News.aspx
The new law, Act 068, signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on April 24, 2012 gives victims of child sex abuse a two-year “window” to use the civil courts to expose their perpetrators and those who may have ignored or concealed the crimes.
The lawsuit was filed in the First Circuit Court, State of Hawaii, and seeks unspecified damages.
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Filed under: Announcements, Education, Hawaii, Kids, Legal, National Affairs, Security, State Affairs Tagged: | Damien Memorial High School, Fr. Gerald Funcheon, Neil Abercrombie, Sex Abuse Scandal, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests