Diocese of Hawaii Clergy Sex Abuse Cases

Diocese of Hawaii Clergy Sex Abuse Cases

It seems everyday there is a new allegation regarding children being sexually abused by officials in their respective houses of worship. The Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, Anglican Church and others have all had to deal with or are currently dealing with allegations and charges that have rocked their institutions. Sex abuse allegations have now reached The Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii. The Catholic Church has been a huge source of child sex abuse allegations once it became mainstream. Recently, the Pennsylvania Attorney General released a report titled the Pennsylvania Diocese Victims Report, which detailed the level of abuse in the state of Pennsylvania. That report made headlines worldwide with over 300 priests being accused. Recently, Hawaii News Now reported a story about a female who remembered her abuse at the hands of one of the “predator priests” when she was a child. According to the story, he was transferred to Hawaii in the 1970s. The woman interviewed in the story gave some details to show how the abuse happened. Church officials in the Diocese of Hawaii were told about the encounters, but nothing was done. The news outlet reported the priest is now deceased and was never brought to justice for his crime.

The Minnesota based law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates and Hawaii based law firm The Law Offices of Mark Gallagher published a report titled Clerical Sexual Abuse in the Diocese of Honolulu. The purpose of the report was to help victims of sexual abuse come forward and make a claim against the diocese for allowing and covering up their abuse. In 2012, the Diocese of Hawaii opened up a time period where victims could come forward. It was extended in 2014 to run until 2016. In 2018, that window was reopened once again for another two years so victims will be able to once again come forward and make a claim. The sources of information that made up the report include the official Catholic Directory, the website BishopAccountability, and various media reports.

The Diocese of Hawaii is comprised of all of the Hawaiian islands and administers over the churches and schools. Due to publicly released information it was revealed that hundreds of minors were sexually abused by clerics throughout the diocese. The main points from the report include the pattern of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Hawaii, the cover up and the negligence by church superiors. One episode featured in the report detailed letters from a Father Gerald Fitzgerald, who helped treat officials that allegedly sexually abused children, suggest the church purchase an island to isolate the worst offenders because he feared they would do it again. That was in 1952. The report also calls to task the governance of the diocese at the highest levels on the abuse as a bishop and a vicar general were accused of child sexual assault.

Other issues like using the Diocese of Hawaii as a dumping ground and staffing issues. The lack of priests allowed for the other officials in the church to be sent to Hawaii where they were able to continue their abuse. The report also detailed the way certain actions were categorized as transgressions instead of crimes and the overall process of reporting about abuses helped the cycle continue. Priests, who allegedly abused children, were allowed to become bishops even with allegations against them. One in particular, Bishop Joseph Ferrario was known to abuse children throughout his career. Church officials defended him when allegations were made against him even smearing his accusers. He was allowed to live as a priest in good standing and retire until his death in 2003.

The report ends with a list of names of church officials who have been accused of sexually abusing children in the Diocese of Hawaii.

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