Hilo-area farmer accused of child sex abuse, forced child labor

Posted by Joelle Casteix on March 3, 2013 in Child safety | Subscribe

I have spoken with five of Jay Ram’s victims. This lawsuit was a long day coming, but hopefully, witnesses will come forward and Jay Ram will be held accountable.

Jay Ram and three boys he adopted

Hakalau farmer named in child sex abuse lawsuit

He adopted and fostered boys in HI and CA, then

Victim charges man isolated boys, abused them  

There could be dozens of victims, group says

New law allows victims to come forward, no matter when they were abused

 

What: At a press conference, victims of sex abuse will announce and discuss a new sex abuse lawsuit against a former Hakalau farmer. The lawsuit alleges that Jay Ram: 

  • Sexually abused the victim and other boys for five years,
  • Isolated the boys from family, friends and peers, and
  • Used the boys as forced child labor to develop the land 

Victims will also:

  • Urge anyone with information about Ram or his whereabouts to report, and
  • Beg other victims to come forward and get help

Where: Outside of Hilo’s Third Circuit Courthouse, Hale Kaulike, 777 Kilauea Avenue in Hilo

When: Monday, March 4 at 1 pm

Who: Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the nation’s largest support group for men and women who were sexually abused in religious and institutional settings, including a California woman who is the group’s Western Regional Director

Why: On Friday, a Honolulu man filed a sex abuse lawsuit against a former Hakalau farmer who, he says, adopted him and then sexually abused him for more than five years. He also says the man used him and other boys as “forced child labor” to develop his land and kept them as virtual prisoners on his farm.

Jay Ram, who is also known as Gary Winnick, is also accused of sexually abusing other boys that he fostered and adopted in California and Hawaii.

This is not the first allegation against Ram. In 1992, another foster child came forward to report that Ram had sexually abused him. A little more than a year later, Ram was indicted for child sexual abuse. The charges were dropped in 1994. There were also allegations of physical abuse launched against Ram a few years earlier. Those allegations did not result in charges.

Because the boys were taken out of his custody to be questioned, Ram went on to sue the State of Hawaii, Department of Human Services for removing the boys from his custody, the case eventually settled.

According to the lawsuit, Ram adopted the victim in California in 1983, when the boy, known as John Roe 8, was 10 years old. The victim had been in foster care for five years. In 1987, Ram moved the victim and other boys to a farm in Hakalau, where, the lawsuit alleges, “Jay Ram isolated the boy and his other adopted children, prohibiting them from visiting friends’ houses, having girlfriends and playing sports.” From 1984 to 1989, the suit also charges, Ram sexually abused the victim and other boys who lived with them.

During this time, Ram was involved in agricultural research with the University of Hawaii, Hilo.

SNAP believes there may be more victims suffering in silence.

“Jay Ram adopted vulnerable boys and used them for his sexual pleasure,” said Joelle Casteix, SNAP Western Regional Director. “Since the boys were so isolated, they had nowhere to go for help and were prisoners in a cycle of abuse they could not escape.”

The group also believes there may be witnesses, including researchers from UH who spent a great deal of time on the farm.

The victim in this case was able to come forward and expose Ram in the civil courts because of a landmark new state law that allows all Hawaii victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and seek justice in the courts, no matter when the abuse occurred.

Ram’s last known address was in Saipan. However, reports claim he may in India.

 

 

2 Comments

  • Dave says:

    I taught high school 20 years in Hilo. There was a family of 3 kids, 2 boys and a girl, now aged 22-30, who came to our school. One, or maybe both, boys spent time in Hakalau with an adult named Jay. When parents came for conferences, there was this talk of part-time living in Hakalau, which I never inquired into, but it always struck me as bizarre. I am willing to find out more from my former school, as it would have been the dean who would know the particulars. Let me know.

  • [...] Notable too is that a version of civil window in Delaware’s Child Victim’s Act is in effect now in Hawaii and the law is already exposing decades of shocking abuse and institutional cover [...]

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