A former University of Hawaii student and Air Force veteran has sued the university and one of his professors for allegedly attacking him with “violent outbursts and irrational verbal and physical abuse.”
Kenton Asao filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court last week, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. It accuses associate biology professor Marguerite Butler, who is also the chairwoman of the Manoa Faculty Senate, of assault and battery as well as intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The suit accuses the university of negligence.
University spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said the school hasn’t received a copy of the lawsuit but the school doesn’t normally comment on ongoing litigation. He said he couldn’t comment on the case.
Butler didn’t respond to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s request for comment.
The allegations stem from a 2014 incident in which the former student claims he sustained physical injuries and emotional pain that interfered with his school work and required psychological counseling. Soon after the alleged incident, he says he was deemed unfit to re-enlist in the Hawaii Air National Guard.
Asao had been pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology at UH Manoa in October 2014 when Butler invited him on a research trip to Kauai. But he said he had a disagreement with Butler over her request that he transport flammable liquids and live insects between Oahu and Kauai. After this, tensions simmered during the trip before escalating to a physical confrontation.
The lawsuit alleges Butler chased after Asao when he decided to find his own way back to the Kauai airport after refusing to carry insects on the plane. It says Butler “used great force to physically restrain him by grabbing the handle of his backpack and pulling on it.” She then allegedly grabbed his backpack handle with both hands and used her weight to attempt to throw him to the ground.
Asao says he experienced “intense shoulder pain and a sharp pain along his entire spine” during the tussle. When he asked her to stop, he alleges she instead repeated the move with more force.
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