Punahou School said Wednesday that it has settled “all the cases” involving sexual abuse claims against a former girl’s basketball coach and employee by several graduates of the school who were minors when the alleged events took place in the early-to-mid 2000s.
The news release was issued as a joint statement by the Honolulu K-12 private school and the plaintiffs in the cases: Shawna-Lei Kuehu, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Mahina Macfarlane and two unnamed plaintiffs, identified as “two anonymous victims.”
“The school deeply and profoundly apologizes to these former students for the pain they suffered and welcomes the opportunity to learn from them as it continues it work to ensure the safety of its students,” it said.
The Macfarlanes, who are sisters, filed their suit on April 22, 2020. Kuehu filed her suit just two days later, court records show. Both cases name as defendants Punahou and the former girls’ basketball coach, Dwayne Yuen, among other parties.
The lawsuits describe a pattern of sexual predatory behavior by Yuen — then in his early 30s — against the girls when they were in their early teens: between 2004 and 2006, in Kuehu’s case, and from 2003 to 2004 for the Macfarlanes.
Kuehu, who graduated in 2008 and was a star on the basketball team, said Yuen groomed her and manipulated her into a sexual relationship, and “used his power, control and influence to make her feel as if she had no choice but to succumb to his sexual advances” if she wanted to keep her spot on the team. Her mother sought a restraining order against Yuen in summer 2006 on her daughter’s behalf, according to the suit.
Kuehu alleged that Yuen continued to stalk her once she graduated, on the campus of the University of Hawaii Manoa, where she played college basketball, and at the Punahou campus, where she returned in 2016-17 as an assistant coach for girls’ basketball. At the time she filed her suit, she was a coach at Kealakehe High School.
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, a 2009 Punahou graduate who is a professional mixed martial arts fighter, and Mahina Macfarlane, a 2006 graduate, said Yuen subjected the girls to sexual grooming when they were 12 and 14, respectively, and students on the basketball team. He showered them with gifts and food, sent them pictures of his genitals via text on his cellphone and offered cash in exchange for sexual acts, according to their suit.
The Macfarlane contend they reported Yuen’s behavior to Punahou administrators around 2004 or 2005 but that the school “turned a blind eye” to their report.
The lawsuits contend Punahou was aware of Yuen’s behavior as early as 2003 and did not do anything to intervene or protect the students.