The jury trial of a Kapa’a man accused of molesting a young relative began Tuesday, Feb. 10, in Fifth Circuit Court, Judge Clifford L. Nakea presiding.
Roy Rita, of Laipo Road, was indicted last June in two cases, for a total of 11 counts of molesting a minor less than 14 years old. Rita received another indictment last December of one count of sexual contact with a minor. The charges stem from incidents that happened in 1999 and 2000. Court records show that is on trial for all three cases.
Rita is being represented by public defender James Itamura; county prosecutor Russell Goo is representing the state. The defendant was charged with having three or more sexual encounters over a period of time with recurring access to the child.
In opening statements, Goo promised the victim would testify to the details of the sexual assaults, which the state is charging occurred at Rita’s house, on the same lot as her grandparents’ house, where her “favorite” grandfather and sometimes grandmother looked after her nearly every day and over the weekend.
“It would be as a society less painful to believe crimes like this don’t happen. But crimes like this do happen, even in this quiet community of Kaua’i,” Goo said. He asked the jury to regard what motives or benefits the child would actually consider by making up the story, which led her to be separated from her family for a time, Goo said.
Itamura’s opening statement touched on Rita’s simple lifestyle that consisted of just three things: The room he lived in, raising his gaming chickens, and his job. He pointed to the conflicting stories the child gave to social workers, a school psychologist and the grand jury that made the decision to indict Rita.
Itamura said two of the alleged victim’s relatives would testify the child “makes up stuff” and were victimized by these stories in the past.
The state’s first witness was the victim’s mother, who testified that because she and her husband worked long, odd hours, their children would go to the Rita household after school and over the weekends. She testified that when she talked with her husband about what had happened, he seemed to get upset at their kids.
The victim took the stand to detail three different incidents, and used colored markers to draw the positions of their bodies during the alleged assaults. Photographs and drawings of Rita’s home were entered into evidence. The structure consists of a bedroom, hallway, washroom, garage and washroom.
The child described that visits with Rita would consist of feeding his 100 or so fighting chickens or playing games on his PlayStation system.
“He told me I had to do this stuff in order to play the PlayStation,” the child said, testifying that while lying on the bed, Rita pulled down their shorts and underwear, then would move his “private part” between the legs and buttocks and breathe hard until she felt a “sticky, light gray liquid.”
Under cross examination, the child admitted to being “mixed up” when being interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center and giving testimony to the grand jury.
For instance, the story changed from one incident to two, and then nine, Itamura specified. The child testified that details from her original report against Rita were wrong.
The trial will continue this morning from 8:30 a.m. in Fifth Circuit Court in Lihu’e. The jury is made up of nine women and three men, with one male alternate.
Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 252).