Hawaii Schools Settle Suit Involving Teacher Recording Students for $5M

July 10, 2018

Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii has agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by families of four former students whose teacher is accused of secretly recording them showering in his faculty apartment.

The lawsuit claims officials at the private school for students of Hawaiian ancestry should have known about the actions of teacher Gabriel Alisna and taken steps to prevent them but didn’t. It also faults school officials for their handling of the matter after discovering it.

“Together we agreed resolution was the right thing to do, and we remain committed to seeing Alisna held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Kamehameha Schools Chief Executive Officer Jack Wong said, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday.

Michael Green, a lawyer who represents the families of the four students, said attorneys for Kamehameha Schools did not ask him to keep the settlement confidential.

“I truly believe the trustees want this to be a message that they will do whatever they believe is proper for the kids,” Green said. “And I think they’re taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Alisna has been awaiting trial on felony violation of privacy charges involving three of the students and misdemeanor sexual assault charges involving one student.

The former speech teacher and debate team coach has pleaded not guilty.

According to court documents cited by the newspaper, one of Alisna’s former students, who had graduated and was staying with him, discovered the shower videos on a hard drive and reported the discovery to a Kamehameha Schools faculty or staff member in 2012.

The employee reported what the former student said on the trust’s anonymous online reporting system on March 2, 2013.

A Kamehameha Schools compliance office interviewed the tipster and a school employee who had become Alisna’s girlfriend after graduating from the school.

She said Alisna allowed students to sleep overnight at his apartment in preparation for debate tournaments, showed interest in male students and kept online videos, the court documents say. She was not named by the newspaper.

Kamehameha Schools security officers later searched Alisna’s apartment and seized a hard-drive, camera and other evidence. School officials filed a police report six days after receiving the anonymous tip.

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