Kamehameha Schools today issued an unambiguous apology to the sex-abuse victims of Dr. Robert Browne, saying more was expected of the institution in its handling of the case.
“On behalf of Kamehameha Schools, I’d like to take this time to apologize to these victims of Dr. Browne and their families who suffered alongside them,” Chief Executive Officer Jack Wong wrote in a letter posted on the organization’s website. “Kamehameha Schools is deeply and truly sorry.”
To the school’s students, ohana and the Hawaiian community, Wong also offered “our sincere apologies for doubts these incidents may have raised about the leadership and conduct of the institution and legacy we belong to, revere, and fight for. More is expected of us.”
Wong issued the apology in the wake of widespread public criticism about how the school handled the allegations when former President Michael Chun learned of them in 1991 and in the institution’s actions since. Browne was a psychiatric consultant who treated hundreds of Kamehameha students from the late 1950s into the early ’80s.
Thirty-four former Browne patients have sued the school, St. Francis Medical Center, where Browne was chief of psychiatry, and Browne’s estate, alleging gross negligence and other charges for not protecting them from the doctor’s alleged abuse.
In sworn depositions first disclosed by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Chun admitted that the school didn’t conduct a broad investigation when it learned of the allegations in 1991 and over the years did not reach out to the victims to offer assistance.
In his online posting, Wong said the school is “working tirelessly to make amends” and vowed to “do what is pono for these victims” and to not allow incidents of abuse to go “unnoticed, unreported or unaddressed.”