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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 15, 2010

Trial set for Feb. 23 in case of seriously abused teen

Advertiser Staff

A trial date has been set for a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of an abused girl found in a coma with burn marks and maggot-infested wounds.

Unless a settlement is reached, the nonjury trial is scheduled to be heard by Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura at 9 a.m. Feb. 23, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

The lawsuit was filed by the victim's grandfather against the girl's former caregiver, Hyacinth Poouahi, who a year ago was sentenced to a 20-year prison term for abusing the girl. The victim was 9 when the abuse began in Poouahi's Ainaloa home in late 2004.

Other defendants include the girl's biological mother, Crystal McGrath, who left the girl in Poouahi's care, and the state departments of Education and Human Services.

The girl was in a coma for several weeks in a Honolulu hospital after her Feb. 7, 2005, rescue by fire department paramedics. Today, at age 15, she is severely speech- and hearing-impaired, blind in one eye, walks with a limp and has facial disfigurement.

The girl also was tortured psychologically, being forced to eat cockroaches, and breakfast cereal mixed with chili peppers.

Among the allegations is that people at Keonepoko Elementary School knew of the abuse as early as December 2004 but failed to notify either police or the Child Protective Service. Honolulu attorney Arthur Park, who represents the girl's grandfather, Bienvenido Cabanting, has asked Nakamura for a pretrial ruling against the DOE for breaching its duty of care.

Nakamura took Park's request under advisement.