The state of Hawaii’s Catholic roots date back to the early 19th century when Catholic missionaries were sent to bring the Catholic religion to the island its surrounding environs. The Diocese of Hawaii was officially erected in January 1941 and the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu remains the only diocese serving the Hawaiian islands. The Diocese of Honolulu belongs to the Province of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
* Image courtesy of http://spiritualmomshawaii.blogspot.com/ *
Since its inception, the Diocese of Honolulu has been served by religious orders including the Christian Brothers, Marists, Capuchins, Congregation of the Sacred Heart, and Maryknoll Fathers. In addition, the diocese has been served by a number of extern (priests from other locations) priests who serve temporarily in the Diocese of Honolulu.
As is often the case, especially when a diocese is served by a largely transient population of clergy, problems of clergy sexual abuse arise. Sadly, this has been true in Hawaii, especially regarding the Christian Brothers and the Order of the Sacred Heart, both of which have operated schools for minor boys in Hawaii.
Since the abuse crisis broke more than a decade ago, two Hawaii Christian Brothers have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors. Brother Robert Brouillette Brouillette, a Christian Brother who served as a religion and history teacher at Damien High School in Hawaii, was arrested in an undercover sex sting operation in Cook County Illinois in 1997. During the police interrogation, he admitted to possessing more than 400 images of child pornography. He was eventually convicted of possession of 10 counts of child pornography and received probation. He has been the subject of at least three sex abuse allegations during his tenure at Damien High School.
The Christian Brothers continually transferred Brouillette in order to cover-up these sex abuse allegations. In 2004, the Christian Brothers ordered him to a church-run treatment facility in 2004. According to high school yearbooks, Brouillette served at the school in 1971-1973 and 1985-1988. He has since left the Order and changed his last name to Sullivan.
Brother Thomas Cumbert Ford
Ford was perhaps one of the worst abusers in Hawaii. During his tenure as Dean of Students at Damien High School from 1972 to 1975. The abuse he perpetrated on young children included savage physical abuse (on one occasion his physical beating left a young boy unconscious) as well as sexual abuse. In 1996, Canadian law enforcement officials charged him with 9 counts of physically assaulting abandoned children. During this time, he was hiding out in the United States and refused extradition. Eventually, he was convicted and sentenced to five months in jail. He died in 2008. In spite of multiple allegations of beatings and sexual abuse of children in Newfoundland in the late 1950’s Ford was allowed to work as the Dean of Discipline at Damien High School where his reign of terror continued unabated by the Christian Brothers or Hawaii law enforcement.
Thirteen other Catholic priests and brothers serving in Hawaii have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. While the media has not focused much attention on the Hawaii sexual abuse problem, these names have been compiled from various media sources and sexual abuse lawsuits filed by courageous survivors of sexual abuse. The Diocese of Honolulu has steadfastly refused to publish these names or protect future children from sexual predators. The names of these priests and brothers are: Roberto Batoon, Eugene Blazek, Alphonsus Boumeister, Joseph Bukoski, Roberto A. de Otero, Joseph Ferrario, Lowell Fischer, James Gonsalves, Joseph Henry, James Jackson, Andrew Mannetta, Henry Sabog and Dominic Stone.
The recent decision by the Hawaii Legislature to open the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual abuse provides those who’ve been abused by priests, brothers, coaches, and those in positions of trust and authority in the community to bring civil justice sexual abuse lawsuits against their perpetrators and the institutions that protected them.