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Friday, July 28, 2000

Kona couple
on list to adopt
abused girls

By Rod Thompson
Big Island correspondent


KEALAKEKUA, Hawaii -- The state Child Protective Services agency has agreed to restore a Kona couple to a list of people eligible to adopt two sexually abused girls, ending a lawsuit brought by the couple against the agency.

In May the agency removed Joseph and Suzanne Crable from the list, without explanation, after the couple repeatedly complained that sexual activity was going on among children under the agency's jurisdiction at a Konawaena (Elementary) School A+ after-school program attended by one of the girls.

Child Protective Services took no action to remove the girl from the program, nor to warn the parents of three other children not under the agency's jurisdiction, said the Crable's attorney, Robert Kim.

A settlement of the Crables' suit approved by Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra yesterday requires the Crables to be listed as eligible to adopt the girls and mandates the creation of a team to make the adoption process fair.

A social worker, nurse, psychologist and pediatrician will decide who will adopt the girls, Kim said. The selection will be made on an expedited basis and the decision of the team will be final, he said.

The Crables are recognized by the state as providing a therapeutic home for sexually abused children and have wished to adopt the two girls for some time, Kim said.

The girls have been in the foster care of a different couple while awaiting adoption.

In seeking a preliminary injunction to keep Child Protective Services from removing the Crables from the adoptive parents list, Kim told Judge Ibarra that he had a great deal of information on the sexual activity in the program.

The judge urged him not to wait until the trial, but to provide all the information to authorities, Kim said. Police, who previously declined to investigate, are now doing so, Kim said.

Police told him that sexual activity by children under the age of eleven is not a criminal matter, but Kim asked how police could know the ages of the children if they didn't investigate.

He said three children, not under Child Protective Services jurisdiction, may have been affected by the sexual activity.

"You come home and your kid is acting weird, but he's not going to say somebody touched him," Kim said.

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