HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaii agency could have done a better job protecting a 6-year-old child who was abused and later died, a court-appointed expert said in a report.
The court-appointed special master, Stephen Lane, said the child, Peter "Peter Boy" Kema Jr., and his siblings were returned to their parents' home despite multiple removals for possible child abuse, Hawaii News Now reported (http://bit.ly/2obUhIq) Thursday.
"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," Lane wrote.
Peter Kema pleaded guilty last week to manslaughter in the death of the boy who went missing in 1997. His wife, Jaylin Kema, pleaded guilty last year to manslaughter in the first official confirmation that the child was dead.
Keopu Reelitz, a Department of Human Services spokeswoman, declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press on the report filed in Hilo Family Court.
Under a plea deal, Peter Kema could be sentenced to 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of six years and eight months if he helps authorities find the remains of his son.
"Peter Boy" suffered a severe arm injury sometime between December 1996 and February 1997, which was left untreated by his parents, Lane said in his report. The smell of an infection prompted his parents to keep him isolated in a "stink room," according to the report.
A 15-year-old cousin of "Peter Boy" told a therapist that Peter Kema was feeding his injured son dog feces, according to the report.
The therapist told the state Department of Human Services about the cousin's comments on April 4, 1997, the report said.
The department acted on the tip in June 1997 and found Peter Boy to be missing from the family's residence, Lane wrote.
Child protective services violated the law by not responding to reports that "Peter Boy" was injured until two months after the tip, Lane said.
Information from: KGMB-TV, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/