Friday, December 17, 1999

Critics see
hope ahead as last
trustee falls

Roth says the ousted five
'literally set a world record
for breaches of trust'

By Leila Fujimori


The Kamehameha Alumni Association's president breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Lokelani Lindsey became the last Bishop Estate trustee to resign.

"Now the way is clear for the schools and the estate to continue its mission without further detraction," said Roy Benham, a former Kamehameha Schools teacher.

The authors of the "Broken Trust" series that ran in the Star-Bulletin said Lindsey's resignation was inevitable and should have happened sooner.

Lindsey "probably thought she could fight this and win," said co-author and University of Hawaii law professor Randy Roth. "But the case against her has been absolutely overwhelming from the very beginning. The former trustees literally set a world record for breaches of trust."

Senior U.S. District Judge Samuel L. King, a co-author, said, "The last three -- (Richard) Wong, (Henry) Peters and Lindsey -- were corpses who didn't recognize that they were dead."

As to the timing of Lindsey's resignation, co-author Walter Heen, a former state appellate judge, said, "I figured that she was going to wait until at least the trial was in its initial stages before making her final move."

Said Benham, "I think when she saw Henry Peters resign, she saw the handwriting on the wall."

Why did trustees wait so long to resign?"They were unaccountable to anyone for so long, they just didn't handle very well a situation where they were forced to be accountable," Roth suggested.

As to the motive behind the timing of Lindsey's resignation, King said, "She had to resign. Any findings in this suit might hurt her" in the state's pending lawsuit on damages to the estate allegedly caused by the former trustees.

Although he has been critical of Lindsey and her fellow trustees, Roth said he does not harbor any ill will. Heen echoed that sentiment, saying he did not take delight in the resignations. "These are human beings, and they've gone through hell in the last two years or so," he said.

"In their own way, they tried to do a good job," Roth said. "I blame the people who appointed them as much as I do them for the problems that have been uncovered for the last several years."

Roth said the resignations illustrate "the power of some good and industrious men and women who are determined to protect a sacred legacy. If it hadn't been for the Kamehameha alumni, teachers and students who stood up at various times and expressed their concern, none of this would have happened."

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