by Andrew Walden
Following on the heels of a Probate Court finding that missing Waimanalo foster child Ariel Sellers (aka Isabella Kalua) died August 18, 2021, court appointed legal representative Nicole K Cummings has now filed suit on behalf of the Estate and Ariel’s four sisters.
Named defendants include the foster, later adoptive, parents Isaac and Lehua Kalua, DHS, and Catholic Charities.
The complaint, filed August 14, 2023, is the first to allege sexual assault by the Kaluas.
Here are key excerpts:
1. Plaintiff Nicole K. Cummings is, and at all times relevant was a resident of the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii and is the duly appointed Personal Representative for the Estate of I.K., who was born in 2014, (hereinafter referred to as “Sibling 1” or “Estate”) and found by the First Circuit Court, State of Hawaii, to have deceased on or about August 18, 2021 while a minor.
Plaintiff Cummings is also the duly appointed Conservator for Plaintiffs/minors
I.K., who was born in 2009 (hereinafter referred to as “Sibling 2”),
A.S., who was born in 2015, (hereinafter referred to as “Sibling 3”),
I.K., who was born in 2018, (hereinafter referred to as “Sibling 4”), and
A.J., who was born in 2020 (hereinafter referred to as “Sibling 5”
with Sibling 1, Sibling 2, Sibling 3, Sibling 4, and Sibling 5 referred to collectively as “the children”). Plaintiff Cummings brings claims against the above-named Defendants on behalf of the children.
2. The children are biological sisters, are each the subject of a protective proceeding in the Family Court of the First Circuit, and at all times relevant resided in the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii….
8. Defendant Catholic Charities Hawaii (hereinafter “Defendant CCH”) is, and at all times relevant was, a Hawaii Corporation and was contracted by Defendant SOH and DHS to prepare Safe Family Home Reports, which Reports were required to be periodically submitted for the children, pursuant to Hawaii law, including but not limited to §587A-18, Haw. Rev. Stat.
NEGLIGENCE AND OTHER MISCONDUCT
10. In 2018, Sibling 4 was placed into foster care with the Kaluas by DHS.
11. In 2019, Sibling 1 and Sibling 2 were placed into foster care with the Kaluas by DHS.
12. In 2020, Sibling 5 was placed into foster care with the Kaluas by DHS.
13. Sibling 3 was placed into foster care with another family and never resided with the Kalua Defendants.
14. The Kaluas had no experience parenting as they had never had children of their own. Defendant Isaac Kalua had a criminal history of terroristic threatening and assault which was known to DHS. Defendant Lehua Kalua had a drug and criminal history involving methamphetamine addiction, which was known to Defendant SOH and DHS. Further, the Kaluas had substantial financial debt. Despite these known facts, Defendant SOH and DHS placed four of the children in foster care with the Kalua Defendants. The decision to place four of the children in foster care with the Kaluas and continue the foster care arrangement with the Kaluas was endorsed, approved, and recommended by Defendant CCH.
15. During the time that Sibling 1, Sibling 2, Sibling 4, and Sibling 5 were in the care of the Kalua Defendants, Defendant SOH and DHS had complete access to the medical treatment records of the children.
16. Upon information and belief, Defendant SOH and DHS also provided access to the treatment records and other pertinent records relating to the children to Defendant CCH for the purpose of preparing Safe Family Home Reports to satisfy Defendant SOH’s and DHS’s obligations pursuant to Hawaii law including but not limited to Chapter 587A, Haw. Rev. Stat.
17. On July 3, 2019, DHS received a report from an eyewitness that Sibling 1 was seen being beaten by Lehua Kalua and was being starved. Without doing any significant investigation, DHS found the allegations were “Not Confirmed” and no action was taken to ensure that Sibling 1 was safe and receiving proper nourishment from the Kalua Defendants.
18. On August 5, 2019, during a wellness exam at the Waimanalo Health Center, a local physician observed that Sibling 1 had bruises on her abdomen, right hip, right mid back, and both thighs. Defendant Lehua Kalua informed the physician that these bruises were self-inflicted by Sibling 1 punching herself, including the bruising on her mid back. It remains unknown and unexplained how Sibling 1 could have inflicted bruises by punching her own midback.
19. On October 14, 2019, Sibling 1 had swollen hands and was taken to the Waimanalo Health Center where she was diagnosed with fractures of her right pinky finger and left ring finger. Initially, Defendant Lehua Kalua attributed the fractures to Sibling 1 slamming them in a door, but later claimed that the fractures were a result of being stepped on by Sibling 2. The age of the fractures on x-ray was approximately two weeks, so the fractures went unreported by the Kaluas for a significant period of time.
20. On November 8, 2019, Sibling 1 was taken to Shriner’s Hospital for an injury to her collar bone. She was diagnosed with a “traumatic angulated right midshaft clavicle fracture.” Defendant Lehua Kalua told the physician that injury was from “falling off the monkey bars” at a nearby playground. Again, x-rays indicated the collar bone fracture was 7-14 days old, so it had not been reported by the Kaluas in a timely fashion. The Shriner’s physicians also noted the fractures to Sibling 1’s fingers and the delayed reporting of those fractures as well. The physicians apprised a social worker of the physicians’ concerns for Sibling 1’s safety who indicated that she would call Sibling 1’s child protective service case worker to discuss the injuries and the physicians’ concerns.
21. Defendant SOH and DHS were duly notified of the medical injury issues relating to Sibling 1. However, Defendant SOH and DHS apparently accepted the Kaluas’ explanation that Sibling 1’s injuries were either caused by others or were self-inflicted.
22. The medical records from November 8, 2019 also indicate that Sibling 1 and Sibling 2 likely had been sexually abused. Other records reference that Sibling 1 was suffering from mental health disorders including “multiple personality disorder,” more commonly known as dissociative identity disorder, which is invariably caused by severe childhood trauma/abuse.
23. On January 17, 2020, Sibling 1 was taken to the Castle Medical Center with complaints of leg pain. X-rays showed fractures to the right fibula and right tibia. Defendant Lehua Kalua claimed this was caused by Sibling 1 falling from a trampoline.
24. The fact that the Kaluas took Sibling 1 to three different medical providers for her three separate incidents of fracture injuries is highly suspicious for child abuse.
25. On February 24, 2020, DHS received a phone call from Sibling 1’s schoolteacher who reported that Sibling 1 had shown up at school wearing a long sleeve t-shirt under her school uniform. The teacher made her take it off because it was hot. After school, Sibling 1 went to the parking area to catch her ride home but immediately returned to the classroom “shaking, trembling, crying hysterically asking for the long sleeve shirt.” The teacher also remarked that Sibling 1 would also “shut down” when asked about her home environment. The DHS worker who logged the phone call noted, “Follow up: -- SW [social worker] will follow up with RCG (Resource Care Giver (the Kaluas)) at next home visit to discuss concerns.”
26. Despite the foregoing clear indicators of ongoing child abuse, DHS representatives were in family court the following day, on February 25, 2020, to recommend to the presiding family court judge the termination of the biological parent’s parental rights for Sibling 1, Sibling 2, and Sibling 4 and further recommend that these children be adopted by the Kalua Defendants. Upon information and belief, this recommendation was approved and endorsed by Defendant CCH in the home studies that Defendant CCH prepared and/or contributed to.
27. Shortly after the report from Sibling 1’s teacher was made to DHS, the Kalua Defendants elected to home school Sibling 1. Thereafter, Sibling 1’s teachers were no longer able to observe Sibling 1’s appearance or demeanor. This was another factor suspicious for child abuse that was overlooked by Defendants SOH, DHS and CCH.
28. On January 26, 2021, the family court, at the recommendation of Defendants SOH, DHS, and CCH allowed the Kalua Defendants to adopt Sibling 1, Sibling 2 and Sibling 4.
29. On September 13, 2021, the Kalua Defendants reported Sibling 1 missing, stating the last time she was seen was bedtime the night before. Sibling 1 was never seen again.
30. During a subsequent investigation by the Honolulu Police Department, a video surveillance system was discovered at the Kaluas’ residence. It had been installed well prior to the reported disappearance of Sibling 1. HPD officers reviewed video from the surveillance system and determined the last time Sibling 1 was at the Kalua residence was on August 18, 2021, one month prior to Sibling 1 being reported missing by the Kaluas. No explanation has been given by the Kalua Defendants as to why Sibling 1 does not appear on the surveillance video after August 18, 2021 despite the Kaluas’ claim that Sibling 1 first disappeared on September 13, 2021 after being put to sleep in her bedroom on September 12, 2021, the night before her disappearance.
31. HPD officers found that Isaac Kalua had called in sick with his employer due to “COVID” between August 21, 2021 and September 7, 2021.
32. On November 5, 2021, Sibling 2 was interviewed by HPD Detective Alan Oku. Upon information and belief, Sibling 2 related to Detective Oku that the Kalua Defendants commonly kept Sibling 1 in a dog kennel in the bathroom with duct tape over her mouth and nose. According to Sibling 2, the reason for this was because the Kaluas did not always feed Sibling 1, and she would sometimes sneak into the kitchen refrigerator to find food. Sibling 2 also indicated that Sibling 1 died in the bathroom approximately two months before the interview and that Defendant Isaac never had COVID. Instead, Defendant Isaac lied about having COVID to take time off from work to dispose of Sibling 1’s body.
33. Subsequent to the investigation by HPD, the Kalua Defendants were arrested and charged with the murder of Sibling 1. Trial on the criminal charges is pending.
34. Upon information and belief, Sibling 2, Sibling 4, and Sibling 5 were also physically, mentally, and/or sexually abused by the Kalua Defendants and/or others.
35. The afore-described misconduct of the Kalua Defendants constitutes assault, including sexual assault, battery, including sexual battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death….
read … Full Complaint
SA: 3 law firms suing multiple parties in Kalua case -- "Randall Rosenberg of law firm Rosenberg McKay Hoffman said, '(I)t’s not clear who all the abusers were. Some were identified. Those identified did not include the Kaluas, so we are attempting to firm up that the Kaluas were also involved, but have not had the chance to do that yet.'”
CB: State Failed To Heed Warnings Of Waimanalo Girl's Abuse, Lawsuit Alleges
SA: Justice sought for Isabella ‘Ariel’ Kalua
July, 2023: Lawsuit Coming: Murder of Ariel Sellers Reaches Probate Court