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New law hopes to give sexual abuse victims an opportunity to exp - Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather - KITV Channel 4

New law hopes to give sexual abuse victims an opportunity to expose their abusers

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Shame and secrecy: experts say that's what sex abuse victims who survived molestation as children carry for years. A new law hopes to put an end to that. 

"I was having a lot of dreams flashbacks. Yet I was a mom, I am a mom. I had to be healthy to take care of my own daughters," June Johnson Cleghorn, child sex abuse survivor said.

It took Cleghorn 15 years to speak out about what happened to her during her days at Hawaii Preparatory Academy. Cleghorn says she was just 12 years old when her teacher started abusing her and it continued through her senior year in high school. 

"It's a long road that will be with me forever and that's the most important thing I had to learn, was how to deal with that and not have it be in control of my life," Cleghorn said.

A new law now gives survivors like June up until April of 2020 to consider filing a case in court. Hawaii's courts have led the nation in permitting victims that remained silent for years a chance to come forward. 

"It provides an opportunity for a group of survivors to find their voices and to speak about what happened to them when they were kids," Mark Gallagher sex abuse attorney said. 

Under the existing law, dozens of survivors opened cases against schools and organizations.

A majority were brought up against Hawaii's Roman Catholic Church. 

Of those cases, 58 clerics were accused of abuse. A recent report revealed Hawaii was a dumping ground for abusive priests. 

"For some it might be that they find out the person that hurt them is still teaching is still a priest is still in charge of children is still in a position of power. And what survivors want most of all is to make sure that other kids are safe. That's what this law does," Joelle Casteix, advocate for sex abuse survivors said.  

Survivors like Cleghorn, want those contemplating stepping forward to know it can make a difference. 

"I want victims to be able to be able to come forward because I truly believe if they do, it will help. It may not feel like it at the at the start," Cleghorn said. 

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