HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –
There are just three days left for Hawaii child sex abuse victims to seek justice against their attackers even if the statute of limitations has expired. The deadline is prompting a slew of last-minute lawsuits.
The state passed a law allowing child sex abuse victims to sue their perpetrator even if the crime happened decades ago. However it was a two year window. That window closes this Thursday which is why some lawyers are in for a busy week.
Mark Gallagher may be wearing a path in the courthouse floor. He has already filed 38 child sexual abuse cases and counting.
“I probably have about eight, nine maybe even ten more back at the office to be filed this week,” said Mark Gallagher, Attorney.
Gallagher is one of the attorneys on various advertisements looking for more victims to step forward. There is a sense of urgency because this Thursday April 24 is the deadline, not just to call but to have an actual lawsuit filed with the clerk’s office before it closes at 4:15.
“If you’re going to act tomorrow there is enough time, Wednesday there is enough time, Thursday it’s going to be a little bit tight,” said Gallagher.
The defendants are against various churches, private school groups and individuals. There is a big case against Kamehameha Schools involving 28 alleged victims. There are about 30 different cases against the Catholic Church in Hawaii.
“Going back is so difficult. The Church has been negligent in some way because of the number of abuses that have taken place and it’s unfortunate that it happened. But there’s nothing we can do about that other than to look forward now so we can prevent or eliminate some of the abuses that have taken place,” said Walter Yoshimitsu, Director of Hawaii Catholic Conference.
Yoshimitsu says some cases will be settled. Others will be fought.
“We take full responsibility for something that had happened and if it’s proven that it happened the Church wants to do what’s right,” said Yoshimitsu.
“It will probably be every afternoon down here until Thursday,” said Gallagher, from the clerk’s counter.
Gallagher says the worst case will be the victim who calls Friday when it’s too late.
There are efforts to extend the window at the State Capitol but attorneys aren’t counting on it.
The first trials are set for next February.