According to the organization SNAP – which stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – four more alleged victims of Jay Ram are filing lawsuits saying that he sexually abused them after fostering and/or adopting them.
In March, the first victim brought charges of abuse against Ram – who is also known as Gary Winnick. The victim said that the farmer used him and other boys as forced child labor and kept them as virtual prisoners, threatening them to keep silent. Ram is believed to be in India.
SNAP is trying to reach out to the social services community in Hilo, hoping law enforcement will reopen a criminal investigation against Ram. We were contacted by the organization and on Tuesday we met with Joelle Casteix, a SNAP Volunteer and the Western Regional Director. Casteix detailed the accusations being brought against Ram (video above).
Here is part of the media release SNAP issued before we conducted the interview:
|The lawsuits say that Ram used the boys as forced physical labor and that he also sexually abused them. The victims say that Ram threatened them to keep them silent, deprived them of food and refused to let them to engage in regular social activities with their peers out of fear that the boys would report to authorities. Although Ram has been investigated by the police in the past, the victims say that they were threatened with violence and abuse to keep them quiet. The boys were abused between the ages of 8 and 17 during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s.
Ram was involved in agricultural research with the University of Hawaii, Hilo.
Members of SNAP are reaching out to the social services community in Hilo hoping to finding enough evidence to help law enforcement reopen a criminal investigation against Ram. Many of the boys Ram fostered and adopted were under supervision of social workers in Hilo, who may have felt helpless at the time to do anything about allegations of abuse.
The victims in this case was able to come forward and expose Ram in the civil courts because of a landmark new state law that allows all Hawaii victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and seek justice in the courts, no matter when the abuse occurred.
The victims are being represented by attorneys Mike Reck and Mark Gallagher.