Former Damien teacher and chaplain accused of sex assault

KHON2: An alleged sex assault involving a former Honolulu priest and a Damien Memorial School student has surfaced, nearly 30 years later.

A new state law allows adults who claim they were molested as children to take legal action even after the statute of limitations has lapsed.

The lawsuit that was filed yesterday claims the then 13-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by a former Damien chaplain. And it’s not the first time the former priest has been accused of a sex crime.

Father Gerald Funcheon, a former teacher and chaplain at Damien Memorial School in 1983 and 1984, has been hit with accusations involving a nearly 30-year-old incident.

“This lawsuit is stemming from that one trip where Father Funcheon took three boys from Damien Memorial over to a retreat over on the westside of the island,” said Mike Reck, plaintiff’s attorney.

One of the boys, now an adult still living on Oahu, claims he was sexually abused during the trip. One of the other boys who attended Damien and was also at the retreat, will likely come forward with his own lawsuit in a few weeks, Reck said.

“Well he was 13 at the time and he actually moved very quickly in response to what’s really a historic movement for protection of children in Hawaii,” Reck said.

The attorney for both plaintiffs is referring to Act 068, signed by the Governor last month. It gives victims of child sex abuse a two-year window to use the civil courts to expose their perpetrators and those who may have ignored or concealed the crimes. The plaintiff’s attorney in this case calls Father Funcheon a “serial predator of children”. And says his office has filed two other lawsuits involving abuse claims on the Mainland.

“First and foremost to seek the accountability against those who were responsible for allowing the abuse and also, to empower the survivors to be able to come forward,” Reck said.

Damien Memorial School President Bernard Ho says these accusations have been referred to their legal counsel and did not want to offer any further comment.

The Diocese of Honolulu, which is also being sued in this matter, did not respond to our calls.