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Historic $40 Million Settlement Awarded to Hawaii Childhood Abuse Victim in Jehovah's Witness Church Case

In a landmark ruling, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, known only as “N.D.,” has been awarded a groundbreaking $40 million settlement in a lawsuit against the Makaha Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and Keneth L. Apana, an “Elder” within the congregation.

As reported by KITV, The lawsuit, filed in 2020, recounted the traumatic experience of “N.D.,” who alleged that she was raped and sexually abused by Apana during sleepovers at his house in 1992, when she was 12. The abuse inflicted immense emotional and psychological scars on the young victim, leaving her with lasting pain and suffering. The court findings, in this case, highlighted Apana's role as a sexual predator, preying on minor girls for over two decades.

Challenges in Pursuing Justice

As with many cases involving institutional abuse, this case would not be without its challenges. Institutions often have considerable resources at their disposal, making it difficult for survivors and their legal representatives to confront them effectively.

Moreover, the survivor faced the potential stigma and trauma associated with reporting abuse, creating an environment that can deter others from coming forward. Addressing these obstacles requires unwavering commitment from the legal team to provide a safe and supportive space for the survivor to share their story.

Implications of the Verdict

The verdict not only holds Apana accountable for his actions but also serves as a warning that institutions must be proactive in safeguarding their members, especially children and vulnerable individuals. With the abuse within their ranks exposed, the Jehovah's Witnesses church is now compelled to address the systemic failures that allowed such abuse to continue unchecked for years.

The $40 million settlement awarded to “N.D.” represents a significant milestone in the fight against institutionalized abuse and the quest for justice for survivors. It underscores the importance of holding both individuals and institutions accountable for their role in enabling abuse to occur.

Furthermore, this ruling serves as a reminder that survivors' voices should be heard and that justice can prevail, even in the face of powerful institutions. It is hoped that this verdict will embolden other survivors to step forward, knowing that there is a legal system that can support them and hold perpetrators and institutions responsible.

An Ongoing Pursuit of Justice for Victims

We have a collective responsibility to protect the vulnerable and seek accountability when trust is violated. Together, as a society, we can work towards creating a safer, more compassionate environment where survivors' voices are heard and where no one has to endure such abhorrent abuse again.

At Shaheen & Gordon, our personal injury attorneys are at the heart of this fight, representing victims of abuse and negligence every day. We put our experience and compassion to work to pursue justice and advocate for change when necessary. If you or a loved one is a victim of abuse, please do not hesitate to come forward. We treat every case with the respect it deserves.