On June 26, 2019 attorneys for two brothers, alleged Hannah Boys Center sexual assault victims, announced a $6.8 million settlement with the scandal plagued school. The two brothers were allegedly abused at the school as children.
A press release about the alleged sexual abuse offered the following case background information
The Hanna Boys Center was founded in 1947 as a residential treatment facility for troubled youth. The school is supervised and controlled by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa.
The two brothers were allegedly molested at the Hanna Boys Center by counselor Kevin Thorpe. Their lawsuit alleged that the Hanna Boys Center and its employees had knowledge that Thorpe was sexually abusing children on the Hanna Boys Center campus and his home, ignored evidence and actively covered up the abuse.
Victim’s Attorney Dan Beck said, “The size of this settlement reflects the enormous harm that was done to our clients. It also sends a powerful message to other victims of child sexual abuse at the Hanna Boys Center and elsewhere – come forward and you will be believed.”
According to the lawsuit, the brothers began attending the center in September of 2006 when Robert was 13 years old and his brother was 15 years old. They soon came into contact with Kevin Thorpe who was their caseworker and counselor at the center. It is alleged that Thorpe quickly began sexual conversations with each of the boys and took them to his home where he would play pornography for them and engage in sexual activity. Thorpe is also alleged to engaged in sexual activity with each of the brothers on the Hanna Boys Center campus.
Here is a link to a video of the news conference where, standing next to Attorney Daniel Beck and Attorney Rachael Mache, Robert Kennedy thanked his attorneys and the civil justice system. “Kevin Thorpe was sentenced to 21 years in prison for what he did to us, but it took this lawsuit to hold the Hanna Boys Center responsible for allowing him to hurt us and many others,” said plaintiff Robert Kennedy.
The statement below from one of the alleged sexual assault victims, Robert Kennedy shows the incredible courage it took to not only pursue their case, but to also step out of the shadows, come forward, and choose to break their anonymity.
Statement of Alleged Sexual Assault Victim Robert Kennedy
“I am speaking today because I will like to let other survivors of sexual assault know, that what happen to you is not your fault. For those who have yet to speak out, please know, that there is no standard way survivors talk about sexual assault. I understand it is hard to talk about. So, do it any way you feel comfortable. I hope that my story will help you. I had many fears before I spoke out. I wondered if I would be believed or if I would be blamed? Would I have to relive what happened? Will everyone judge me? And if I speak out, will it even matter?
One day I was talking to another person who graduated from Hanna Boys Center. We were talking about how similar our childhoods were even though he grew up in California and I grew up In Ohio. We then started talking about our experiences at Hanna. We had the same caseworker. He told me how our caseworker Kevin Thorpe would always make sexual remarks toward him disguised as jokes. Other staff members would overhear, but they didn’t do anything about it. My friend said that he thought that Thorpe would do something sexual if he could. When my friend told me that, I knew he would believe me if I told him that Thorpe sexually abused me. So, I came out with it. He encouraged me to tell someone.
I knew that I couldn’t tell anyone who works at Hanna or the Catholic Church that oversees the place. I knew they would silence me. They would act like it never happen. The same way Joseph Felice turned around and pretended nothing happened when he walked in Thorpe’s office and watched as I was being sexually abused. After that took place, I spent years being sexually abused. Hanna Boys Center and the Catholic Church Still doesn’t believe me. And, Joseph Felice Still works at Hanna.
When Kevin Thorpe was first arrested it made the news. I had many staff members and former boys as friends on Facebook. I read comments from staff members at Hanna, accusing me as someone who just wanted to make a quick buck from the school. I thought that, if only they knew it was me saying this, they would believe me, but I was wrong.
I already knew that I couldn’t tell anyone at Hanna what happened to me, but after finding out about the collective efforts by the church and Hanna to silence me and protect Thorpe, I was even more convinced that I made the right choice. All the fears I had before coming out came true. Because of the Church and Hanna Boys Center not believing me, I had to relive the sexual abuse. I was blamed, I was called a liar, and I was judged. Even though I have evidence. Even though Thorpe admitted that he sexually abused me.
I know now why some people take their sexual abuse to the grave. It is because of because of people in this world like Father Crews, and Joseph Felice. When deciding who to tell, I decided to tell a lawyer. I reached out to Beck Law. I was treated very respectfully and felt comfortable enough to talk about my sexual abuse. They believed me. They also put me in touch with Manly, Stewart, and Finaldi. A big law firm who specializes in these types of cases. I felt protected and I was no longer silenced. These lawyers changed my life. I couldn’t have asked for better.”