School’s past actions under scrutiny
These transcript passages are taken from sworn testimony that former Kamehameha Schools officials gave during depositions for a pending lawsuit alleging that a psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Browne, sexually abused students.
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These transcript passages are taken from sworn testimony that former Kamehameha Schools officials gave during depositions for a pending lawsuit alleging that a psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Browne, sexually abused students. Browne committed suicide in 1991. The alleged abuse happened mostly in the 1960s and ’70s. The former officials were questioned by plaintiffs’ attorneys in 2016, focusing on their actions when the allegations surfaced in the 1990s.
Former Kamehameha president
On a parent’s allegations in 1991 that several of his boys were abused:
Q: Was there ever a time after you determined that their allegations were accurate that you determined that you should investigate if there were any other students who had been subjected to similar abuse?
A: I don’t recall giving any specific instructions to follow up on any other names. Again, at this juncture I relied on the legal department to provide guidance.
On helping alleged victims:
Q: But you could have done something?
A: Doing nothing is doing something, right?
On reporting allegations to law enforcement:
Q: Did you ever report that you had come across information that crimes had been committed in the nature of sexual abuse against students? You never reported it to anybody?
A: I never reported that — I never reported it to the officials.
On why experts were not brought in to help students who might have been subjected to past sexual abuse:
“Anger has been the centerpiece of my issues.” — Ronald James
“All these years of suffering, and Kam Schools, to me, they didn’t care. They’re just sorry they got caught.” — Michael Almeida
“I’ve been holding my shame in all this time. But now I realize it wasn’t my fault. I was a victim.” — Alika Bajo
“This has deeply impacted all of us, and as we work toward resolution in everyone’s best interest, we trust that we will all find a way to heal together as one ohana. Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to the plaintiffs and their families.” — Kamehameha Schools
Q: Should you have?
A: You know, hindsight is always 20/20. At this point in time my focus and concern was on making sure that no children would be harmed under my care. I wanted to make sure that whatever protocols that we had in place — that was my focus.
Q: I understand.
A: It was really focusing on making no further harm, OK? I don’t want any harm coming to those under our care. And that was the attention given to this whole matter.
ANTHONY J. RAMOS
Former Kamehameha counselor and principal
On whether he monitored the treatment students received from Browne:
Q: When kids are being referred to this doctor, do you believe in your capacity as a staff member the school had an obligation to monitor what this doctor was doing with their kids?
A: Should have probably.
Q: And as you sit here today, you don’t have one ounce of knowledge that that was ever done?
On whether Ramos followed up on a 1991 phone call by a student who said he was going to confront Browne about abuse allegations shortly before the doctor committed suicide:
Q: And with that answer in mind, Mr. Ramos, and just the thought that maybe it was sexual abuse, did you do anything else as an employee of Kamehameha Schools regarding the phone call you had with (name redacted) a day or two before that (suicide)?
A: No, I didn’t. Things were happening so fast. The next day I got the walk-in telling me that Browne committed suicide. I was kind of stunned by that. And I didn’t go anywhere with that. I said, “The man’s dead.”
Several years later, when another former student told Ramos and a counselor that Browne molested him:
Q: What was your reaction when he said he had been sexually molested by Dr. Browne, if anything?
A: Basically, I said, “This man is dead. I don’t know what to do with this.”
On the monitoring of students seeing Browne:
Q: What I’m saying is you never once asked any student about his relation with Browne, ever once, right?
A: No, right.
Q: Never asked them if they enjoyed their sessions with Browne ever, right?
A: No, huh-uh.
Former Kamehameha counselor
On hearing stories after Browne’s death that the psychiatrist had abused some male patients:
Q: Did you discuss what you had been told about Dr. Browne with anyone?
Q: Is there anything else you want to say about Dr. Browne that we haven’t covered?
A: Well, my impression of Dr. Browne was that he was a fairly private person and he guarded himself, and I never felt like I knew him.
Q: Is there anything that you would want to say to any of the plaintiffs?
A: I guess in hindsight I wished that they had come and spoken to somebody who could have intervened for them, but at the same time I can understand their hesitancy because of all the factors that were working against them.
Q: And if any of the boys who were sent to Dr. Browne did step forward and did tell someone at Kamehameha Schools, did Kamehameha Schools have the obligation to take reasonable steps to protect the boys who were seeing Dr. Browne?