A lawsuit filed on January 19, 2016, alleged that 26 students who formerly attended Kamehameha Schools were sexually abused over and over by a psychiatrist at this private school for natives of Hawaii. The allegations are against psychiatrist Robert Browne, who is no longer living, and the school itself.
Assaults of Robert Brown
The plaintiffs are suing because they attended therapy sessions with Robert Brown, as required by the school, and they were molested in sessions between the almost twenty year span of 1958 through 1985. The school brought students to Robert Brown and paid for the sessions, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit further states that Kamehameha Schools were aware of the allegations for at least the last quarter century, yet they have done nothing to answer to the allegations or try to figure out what happened.
“Kamehameha School has to take responsibility on this one,” Michael Green, attorney in Honolulu said during a news conference on January 19, 2016. “They’re not going to run from this case.”
Attorney Green stated that he believes plenty of other students were molested by Browne, but that they haven’t made an allegation yet.
Started in 1883, the Kamehameha Schools was financed by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. With three campuses throughout the state of Hawaii, almost 7,000 students attend Kamehameha Schools each year.
Browne was also the director of psychiatry at St. Francis Medical Center, who has also been named as a defendant in the case. He was their director until losing his credentials. The Kuakini Medical Center, which is now called the Kuakini Health System, allowed Browne to continue to practice and they are another named defendance.
Robert Browne has been deceased since 1991.
The Vice-President of Communications for the school, Kennith Cockett, said the school is “troubled and saddened” by this news. He stated that “the safety and welfare of our students is our highest priority” and that the school is working hard to cooperate with investigators to bring light to the matter for the victims in the case.
The estate of Robert Browne, represented by Attorney Richard Gronna, has had no comment. St. Francis Healthcare System also refuses to comment on the allegations.
Out of the 26 students who are suing, 24 of them are students who graduated from Kamehameha Schools. The remaining two students went to other schools, but they were referred to Brown for counseling services.
The lawsuit alleges that all of the plaintiffs are male, and that they were under 16 years old when they were sexually molested.
In the suit filed, it is alleged that Browne’s “therapy sessions” involved having boys masturbate and perform oral sex, and that he told the boys that this was to make sure that their bodies worked correctly. He abused the boys both in his office and his house, and in the apartment of the school principal.
Students were mandated to go to therapy sessions with Browne, and the lawsuit states that if students wouldn’t go to therapy, they were facing expulsion.
One of the plaintiffs, Blake Conant, stated that his little brother Christopher was abused in 1968 and 1969 by Browne.
Christopher Conant was prescribed Canton valium by Browne, a drug he used for sedation purposes on Christopher. Christopher went on to struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, until he eventually overdosed in 2011 according to his older brother.
Blake Conant, who is representing his deceased brother, stated that his parents trusted the school to keep them safe, and they did no such thing.
Statute of Limitations
While the incidents happened many years ago, the lawsuit is viable because Hawaii extended the statute of limitations, allowing adults who were molested as young children to now come forward as adults.
A portion of the plaintiffs were involved in a similar lawsuit last year, but the case couldn’t move forward without going through the state Medical Inquiry Conciliation Panel.
A similar lawsuit was filed last month against a boarding school in Rhode Island, one that alleges an athletic trainer and other school employees abused students back in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the Rhode Island case, there are potentially 40 former students who are alleging molestation and rape by employees of the school. The case is being investigated by the Rhode Island state police department.
If you have been a victim of Robert Brown’s sexual assault, or you believe a loved one is a victim, it’s time to contact our law office today to see how we can help you. Calls to our office are completely anonymous. We take your privacy serious.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you can call the Sex Abuse Treatment Center 24 hotline 808-524-7273.