Fr. J. Michael Henry has a hall in his honor. And the number of his alleged victims just keeps growing.
Fr. Joseph Michael Henry (also known as J. Michael Henry and Mike Henry), was a longtime priest in the Diocese of Honolulu. Most of his time was spent at St. Anthony’s Parish in Kailua on Oahu’s Windward Coast—a small-town parish with a school, preschool and active charity league.
Fr. Henry was first exposed as a predator in 1991 lawsuit by a Kailua boy named David Figueroa. In addition, Figueroa charged that after Henry abused him, another priest at the parish, Joseph Ferrario, took advantage of the vulnerable boy and began to abuse him as well. Fr. Joseph Ferrario became Bishop of Honolulu in 1978. Henry died in 1974. Ferrario died in 2003.
Soon after Figueroa came forward, another Kailua boy stepped forward to say that he, too, had been molested by both priests. The initial reason Mark Pinkosh came forward was to support David. Later, he realized that it was vital for his own healing and keeping other kids safe. David’s case was thrown out on the statute of limitations, NOT the merits of the case.
Fortunately for Mark and other victims of child sexual abuse in Hawaii, a new civil law, sponsored by Senator Maile Shimabukuro, gives Mark a chance to use the courts to seek justice, truth and accountability. While both Ferrario and Henry are dead, the people who covered up for them are not. Neither is the legacy of pain they caused.
This week, Mark spoke publicly about his abuse and encouraged others to come forward. His attorneys were there with him to talk about the tragedy of the abuse and cover-up.
Mark Pinkosh, age 8
I have also spoken with another victim of Fr. Henry, who is still considering whether or not he should come forward.
Which leads me to my problem. When television crews interviewed a St. Anthony’ parishioner, here is what she said about Fr. Henry:
He was very good to the children … nothing could make me believe (the allegations).
Not even two victims? What about if the victim I spoke to comes forward? What if other kids come forward?
And …more that 20 years after Henry was accused of sexual abuse by the two boys, this sign still hangs in the parish:
How many more victims have to come forward before they rename the hall? And believe the children?