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State and Region briefs for January 29

State settles lawsuit over child sex abuse in foster care

HONOLULU — The state agreed to pay $585,000 to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of two former foster children who were sexually abused by their Maui foster parent.

The lawsuit filed in 2014 claimed state Department of Human Services officials were negligent and should have known Florentino Rios was unfit to be a foster parent.

Rios, who went by the name Zack Morris when he moved to Hawaii, was convicted of sexually assaulting three boys who were placed in his care from 2009-11. He is serving a 20-year prison sentence on Oahu.

The settlement is being submitted to state lawmakers for approval.

Artifacts discovery halts some work at Marine base

HAGATNA, Guam — Construction work stopped in part of the new U.S. Marine Corps base on Guam after artifacts were discovered.

A contracted archaeologist identified the artifacts last week, finding prehistoric items and items from the late 1800s.

The items include rock tools and pottery fragments, said Al Borja, environmental director for Marine Corps Activity Guam.

The military has as a duty to curate the items, meaning they will be placed in an approved facility after they are collected and studied, Borja said.

The area where construction was halted represents only a small portion of the overall project, said Kelly Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Activity Guam. Construction in that area will resume when the archaeological investigation is completed.

A cultural repository is currently under construction at the University of Guam. The repository will store the artifacts found as the new base in Dededo is built.

Chief justice wants to add 4 judges for 3 islands

HONOLULU — State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald wants lawmakers to fund four additional judges on three islands.

Recktenwald is seeking a new family court judge on Kauai and a District Court judge on Maui. He’s asking lawmakers to pay for two judges on Oahu: one each for district and family courts.

Kauai’s only family court judge was responsible for more than 2,000 new filings last year. Maui’s population has more than doubled since it last received a new district court judge in 1982.

On Oahu, the courts need help handling a surge in drunken driving cases during the past decade.

Recktenwald made his request in his State of the Judiciary speech before a joint session of the Legislature last week.

Bounty hunter reality TV stars closing office

HONOLULU — “Dog the Bounty Hunter” reality TV star Duane “Dog” Chapman’s bail bonds office in Honolulu is closing.

A news release from a publicist for Chapman and his wife, Beth, says the couple’s Da Kine Bail Bonds will close at the end of the month because the building will be demolished.

The couple is looking at other locations. Beth Chapman says the move is bittersweet while she fights throat cancer.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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