Suit: Minor was sexually assaulted while in foster care

The mother of an minor girl is suing the state Department of Human Services, alleging her daughter was sexually abused while in a foster home.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Hilo Circuit Court by Honolulu attorneys Crystal K. Glendon and Kelli K. Lee Ponce, also names as defendants Child Welfare Services case worker Kerry Perez, foster parent Gloria Holmes, Holmes’ adult son, Wayne Holmes, and Tye Puaoi-Marcellino, a friend of the Holmes family.

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Glendon, who didn’t return phone calls from the Tribune-Herald on Monday and Tuesday, talked briefly about the case Monday on the website ThinkTech Hawaii in an episode of “Law Across the Sea” titled “If This Child Was Yours.” She said the girl, now 16, was 13 when the alleged abuse occurred.

“We’re talking about a child who was under the legal age to consent to any kind of sexual contact, and we’re talking about statutory rape, essentially, which is what happened,” Glendon said in the online interview.

According to the filing, the girl was placed in Gloria Holmes’ care. This occurred after the girl’s older sister, who also was in foster care, told Perez in a meeting at Starbucks in Waimea, where both girls were present, that she had sexual intercourse with Puaoi-Marcellino, the suit states.

Perez instructed the girl’s sister to not tell the girl about the alleged incident, otherwise the younger girl wouldn’t go to Holmes’ residence as a foster charge, according to the suit. The lawsuit doesn’t state the date of the alleged meeting, but said the younger sister was placed in foster care by DHS on or about July 31, 2017.

The suit alleges Gloria Holmes forbade foster children to lock the bedroom doors and the girl “followed the house rules.”

According to the complaint, on or about Sept. 9, 2017, Puaoi-Marcellino, who had what is described as “open access” to the Holmes’ house, entered the girl’s bedroom at night without her permission and put his hands under her clothing to touch her improperly. He allegedly left the bedroom after being told by the girl to “get off.”

In addition, it’s claimed that Puaoi-Marcellino sexually assaulted the girl, including intercourse, on or about Oct. 10, 2017, when Holmes was taking another child to a medical appointment, and on or about Feb. 9 and/or Feb. 10, 2018, when Puaoi-Marcellino “invited himself along” to a movie outing with a friend.

The suit alleges that Puaoi-Marcellino bought alcoholic beverages, which the girls, both younger than 21, drank. The suit claims that Puaoi-Marcellino again forcefully touched her improperly without her permission.

The filing also claims that on or about Dec. 28, 2017, Wayne Holmes was driving the girl and another individual to Ocean View to drop the other person off. On the way back, the girl fell asleep, and Holmes “at some point” pulled off the road, parked the truck behind a tree and sexually assaulted the girl, including intercourse. According to the complaint, the girl told Holmes to stop but he continued to sexually assault her.

As a result of the attack, the girl attempted to hurt herself later that night, and suffered from suicidal thoughts and depression “after being repeatedly sexually assaulted,” the suit states.

Also alleged are that DHS didn’t properly vet the Holmes’ residence, that the girl was placed in the home after her sister told Perez that Puaoi-Marcellino sexually abused her while she was in the Holmes’ residence, and that DHS breached its duty of care by allowing Wayne Holmes and Puaoi-Marcellino to have “unfettered and unsupervised access” to the plaintiff.

The suit also states that Gloria Holmes, as a foster parent, was “an agent, employee, and/or representative of DHS” and that Wayne Holmes’ and Puaoi-Marcellino’s “unfettered access” to Gloria Holmes’ residents made both an “agent/employee or apparent agent/employee of DHS.”

A check of court records shows no significant criminal history for either Wayne Holmes or Puaoi-Marcellino.

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The Tribune-Herald reached out to the state attorney general’s office for comment but received no immediate response Tuesday.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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