Abuse victim in lawsuit against Catholic Diocese tells his story

Published On: Feb 21 2013 09:29:37 PM HST

Six Hawaii men who claim they were victims of sexual abuse filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hawaii and several religious orders related to it.

One man came forward to tell his story for the first time.

"I was an altar boy at St. Anthony's Kailua.  These two priests molested me," said Big Island farmer Greg Owen.

Owen told reporters he was 8 or 9 years old when Father Joseph Henry and Father Edward Meuth abused him.

"There was a number of times with Father Meuth in the sacristy and Father Henry often after altar boy practice, at least to me," said Owen.  "I understand he's been accused in other cases.  He would grab the boys and pull them into his crotch."

Owen, 62, said he was also molested by a lay teacher while off-campus while attending St. Louis School.

"I've had a pretty good life, but like all of us I've struggled," said Owen.  "I've been an alcoholic among other things.  I've had difficulties in relationships -- intimate relationships.  So, I feel pretty certain these kinds of abuses that took place in my early childhood has affected me tremendously."

Owen is the only one of six men filing suit to go public.  The other men alleged abuse at the hand of clergy at Damien Memorial School and St. Patrick Catholic  Church.

This case is a first for Hawaii as it not only seeks monetary reparation for the alleged victims, but also asks the church to implement policy changes to stop future abuse.

"Such as a mandatory victim hotline that is confidential," said attorney Randall Rosenberg.  "The church would have an obligation to post on the website all known perpetrators of abuse.  To give people the ability to check the website to find out if their church has any of these problem priests."

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hawaii had no comment.

The law firm in this case, Rosenberg and McKay are asking adults who feel they were sexually abused in the past to come forward now.

The suit is the result of state law that extended the legal time period for the filing of these types of cases.  The window closes next year.  Any suits must be filed by April 2014.


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