Man alleges child sex abuse in 1977 at Hawaii school

A Hawaii man who says he was sexually abused as a seventh grader in 1977 by a security officer at Highlands Intermediate School is suing the state for damages.

The lawsuit, filed in Circuit Court, alleges the former student and others were abused by Joseph Moisa in his security office at the school in Pearl City and on field trips. It says Moisa supervised students, including the victim, in the Campus Police Officer program.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said Friday personnel records show no individual by the name of Joseph Moisa. She declined further comment given the pending litigation.

The suit accuses the state of gross negligence, saying authorities should have known the security guard posed a danger to children and had sexually molested other children.

The complaint, filed March 21, is seeking general, special and punitive damages. It says the victim, who is identified only as John Roe No. 113, suffered pain, severe and permanent emotional distress, and psychological injury including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

KIRO television of Seattle, Wash., reported in 2014 that a man by the name of Joseph Moisa had been beaten to death, and identified him as a registered sex offender for a crime committed in California.

The Hawaii lawsuit alleges that Moisa sexually assaulted multiple boys. He allegedly removed the plaintiff from classes to abuse him and threatened to hurt him if he told anyone.

Asked why the suit was being brought at this time, attorney Mark Gallagher, who represents the victim, said when the abuse occurred there was a two-year statute of limitations for child survivors to bring charges once they turned 18.

In 2018 the Hawaii State Legislature opened a window allowing survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring claims without regard to the statute of limitations. That window is open until April 2020.

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