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Kamehameha alters policies after handling of rape report

September 10, 2009
The Maui News

HONOLULU (AP) - Kamehameha Schools Headmaster Michael Chun said in a letter addressed to the school's Kapalama community that from now on the school will notify police when it learns of serious offenses.

Kamehameha has been criticized by some for failing to inform police when a 12-year-old girl who boards at the school reported she had been raped by two 13-year-old male students over the last weekend of August.

Instead, the school said it followed its policy of informing the girl's parents, who then called police.

Chun wrote Sunday in the letter that when a serious offense occurs, the school's ''first response is to immediately protect the children who are involved once we learn of an incident.''

He said the school followed normal procedure, ensuring the students were safe, gathering information, then notifying parents and assisting them if they wished to notify police.

''However, we also recognize the police have a kuleana (responsibility) to investigate and gather evidence when a potential crime has occurred,'' Chun wrote. ''We respect that kuleana and in the future will notify the proper authorities of serious offenses even as we fulfill our kuleana to our haumana (students).''

The parents' attorney, Eric Seitz, said Tuesday that his clients were ''devastated'' by what happened.

''There were concerns about the way this was handled,'' Seitz said. ''We will be looking at those. There has been a lot of unhappiness expressed'' by the parents.

''As you can imagine, it's a major struggle,'' Seitz said. ''They're having a very difficult time.''

Seitz would not go into specifics as to what happened to the girl or the way in which Kamehameha Schools responded, saying, ''at this point our main concern is the young lady who is the victim.''

However, Seitz did say a civil lawsuit could be filed.

In commenting on the case, University of Hawaii professor Michael D'Andrea said private and public schools are obligated to call police when a crime has been committed.



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