For immediate release: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Hawaii bishop accused of molesting boy
New sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit is filed
This is the 2nd victim to name Ferrario as offender
Diocese knew and covered up allegations, lawsuit says
New state law lets victims expose abusers & protect kids
In a new civil lawsuit using an unusual new state law, a former Hawaii bishop and one of his priests are accused of molesting a boy and Catholic officials are accused of ignoring or concealing their crimes.
A California man says he was sexually violated as a ten-year-old in 1973, first by Fr. Joseph Henry and then by former Honolulu Bishop Joseph Ferrario. At the time, the boy attended mass at St. Anthony’s parish in Kailua. Both alleged wrongdoers are now deceased.
The lawsuit is one of the first filed under a new Hawaii law that lets child sex abuse victims use the courts to expose predators, protect kids and seek justice, even decades after they were assaulted.
The victim, who grew up in Hawaii and now lives in California, is suing the Honolulu Diocese, which employed both clerics.
The suit says that after being sexually victimized by Henry, the confused and scared boy was placed in religious education classes with Joseph Ferrario. Ferrario was a new priest at the parish who allegedly “counseled” the victim and began abusing the boy himself. The abuse reportedly continued after Ferrario was made an auxiliary bishop and continued until 1978.
Before Ferrario came to the parish, boy reported the abuse by Henry to two other priests, who told him to keep quiet, the suit maintains
This is the second victim of Henry and Ferrario to come forward.
In 1991, David Figueroa of Hawaii filed a similar suit against both clerics. In 1991, it was dismissed because the statute of limitations had passed .
The victim in the new suit came forward to a church lawyer in 1991 to report his abuse, but allegedly, Honolulu church officials offered no help and launched no investigation (or did so secretly).
“This is a perfect example of how Hawaii’s new civil window law can being justice and accountability to victims,” said Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP Western Regional Director. “Here’s a victim who did everything ‘right,’ but church officials silenced him and kept kids at risk. But because of this smart new law, the public will be able to learn which diocesan staff ignored or concealed these heinous crimes.”
“The new Hawaii law is especially important in situations like this one, when the power of an accused bishop is one of the factors that has prevented justice from being done,” said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org. “We know of 22 bishops in the U.S. who have been accused of abuse, including Bishop Ferrario, and as bishops, they have a crucial role in the clerical culture of abuse and the enabling of abuse.”
The new law, Act 068, sponsored by Sen. Maile Shimabukuru and signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in April gives child sex abuse victims a two-year “window” to use the civil courts to expose their perpetrators and those who may have ignored or concealed the crimes. This is the second known case filed under the new law. The first, against Damien High School chaplain Gerald Funcheon, was filed in May.
In California and Delaware, civil window laws exposed hundreds of predators and help law enforcement put predators behind bars.
Henry, who died in 1974, also went by J. Michael Henry and Joseph M. Henry. Ferrario died in 2003 and spent part of his clerical career working in Hawaii and California. You can see his entire history here
Copies of the lawsuit are available on the website http://www.abusedinhawaii.com
The lawsuit was filed in the Hawaii’s First Circuit Court and seeks unspecified damages.