Siblings' suit: Death of 'Peter Boy' could've been prevented
Jan. 12, 2018
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Peter Kema Jr.'s siblings filed a lawsuit against the state and Kema Jr.'s parents, claiming the boy's death in 1997 was preventable.
The suit was filed Wednesday by attorney Randall Rosenberg on behalf of Kema Jr.'s estate and siblings. It came after a court-appointed special master found in April 2017 that Kema Jr., known as "Peter Boy," and his siblings were returned to their parents' home despite multiple removals for possible child abuse.
The special master said the state Department of Human Services could've done a better job protecting the boy.
"There was overwhelming evidence that Peter Kema, Sr. and Jaylin Kema were unfit, violent and abusive parents, yet family reunification continued to be the goal of the state," special master Stephen Lane said.
The department said Child Welfare Services has transformed in the more than 20 years since the boy's death.
"Our department will be working with the Department of the Attorney General on next steps," the department said in a statement. "While their family and the broader community have gotten a lot of answers over the last two years since the Kemas were first arrested, we recognize that there is still a lot of healing and closure to come."
A Hilo grand jury indicted the parents, Peter Kema Sr. and Jaylin Kema, in April 2016 for the death of their son. Both pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
The boy's body was never found, but the Kemas admitted the child died of septic shock after they failed to provide sufficient medical treatment for an injury to his arm, which was caused by Peter Kema Sr.