This Island Voices piece was published Feb. 18, 2018, in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
By Jack Wong and Micah Kane
February 18, 2018
While we can never turn back time or take away any of the pain endured by the survivors of Dr. Robert Browne’s abuse, we are moving ever closer to bringing closure to this legal process, allowing the healing that we all want to see begin. Thursday’s tentative settlement has started us down a path toward resolution of the tragic events committed against our former students over 40 years ago and has offered our strongest commitment to supporting the yet-unheard victims and keiki of past, present and future generations.
Our highest priority from the beginning has been to bring closure as quickly as possible so that the survivors, our beneficiaries, and we as an organization could move forward together. We considered many things, including the ongoing pain each of these men have endured, the impact on the organization and the mediators’ expert recommendations surrounding what constitutes a fair settlement in cases of abuse.
While we acknowledge St. Francis Medical Center and its board for considering all of its options to participate in settlement alongside us, we are extremely disappointed in their unwillingness to accept its share of responsibility and be a greater part of the solution.
Regardless of their actions, we refused to let this interfere in reaching an agreement sooner — and we will be exploring our options with St. Francis, with the cooperation and support of the survivors as we move forward.
We are committed to serving those who were unable or unwilling to come forward and have established a survivors’ fund, which will provide funding for medical, counseling and psychiatric services for all current and former KS students who have experienced physical or sexual abuse while at Kamehameha Schools. Jointly named Ho‘opakele by the survivors and KS, the fund is a way for us to reach out and help those who continue to suffer alone and in silence.
Kamehameha has been a beacon of light and hope to Native Hawaiians, and we take this kuleana very seriously. We know that the safety of our keiki is non-negotiable, central and paramount to our mission of uplifting our Lahui. We have worked hard over the past two decades to create a culture in which people are safe and have the tools to raise their voice. Prevention is key, and it is achieved through constant awareness and vigilance.
We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to come together and move toward healing for the survivors and our community. Pauahi left us a beautiful and rich legacy in our beloved Kamehameha Schools, and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to uphold it to the highest standard so her vision may endure for future generations.
The abuse of these individuals at the hands of Dr. Browne should never have happened.
One day of suffering was one day too many, and we hope the resolution agreed to on Thursday will bring them the closure and healing they absolutely deserve.
Jack Wong is CEO and Micah Kane is chairman of the board of trustees for Kamehameha Schools.