By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A group supporting survivors of sexual abuse is asking for help in locating a former Big Island resident.
Jay Ram has been accused by five of his adopted sons of sexual abuse from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, according to a lawsuit filed in First Circuit Court.
Ram, also known as Gary Winnick, had adopted or fostered as many as two dozen boys over the years, according to Joelle Casteix, western regional director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The group, which mostly assists victims of abuse from priests, is assisting the plaintiffs.
Casteix believes there are other victims who have yet to come forward and is asking for their help, as well as assistance from isle residents and agencies who may have information on his whereabouts.
Ram is believed to live in India with another boy, she said, and has a mailbox address in Saipan. He may have lived on the isle as recently as two years ago, Casteix said.
“We want people to know it’s okay to come forward,” she said. “If they have been sexually abused, they have rights.”
On Tuesday, she was handing out fliers asking for the public’s help to the Hawaii County Police Department and Child and Family Service.
Most of the plaintiffs were adopted in California and moved with Ram to Hakalau in 1987 where he started a farm.
He had previously worked with the University of Hawaii on agriculture research.
Casteix described the boys as providing “slave labor” for Ram.
She said he controlled the boys’ lives and used threats to keep them from going to authorities.
When a boy visiting the farm accused Ram of sexual abuse in 1992, he forced the adopted sons to keep quiet, Casteix said, which resulted in the case being dropped.
The plaintiffs are able to file a civil suit due to a two-year window provided by the state that allows victims of abuse to file lawsuits beyond the statute of limitations.
If out of the country, Ram could not be extradited for a civil case, Casteix said.
But criminal charges could be filed if younger victims come forward, she said.
“We can possibly get extradition” then, Casteix said.
She said the plaintiffs, identified as John Roes 8, 16, 17, 18 and 19, are not expecting to get any money from the case.
“There’s no money in this,” Casteix said.
SNAP is asking victims or anyone with information on Ram to contact the Police Department at 961-2213 or SNAP at 949-322-7434 or SNAPCasteix@gmail.com.
Privacy is protected, the group said.
Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaii tribune-herald.com.