Sex offender arraigned on new charges

LIHU‘E — A registered sex offender faces new sexual assault and kidnapping charges stemming from the alleged sexual assault of a tourist in Lihu‘e.

On Monday afternoon, District Judge Trudy Senda arraigned Lihu‘e resident Ernest R. Moniz Jr. on five counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of third-degree sexual assault and one count of kidnapping.

First Deputy Prosecutor Jake Delaplane said the alleged victim is a man, but could not provide other details.

The incident allegedly occurred on the night of June 6, Kaua‘i Police Assistant Chief Roy Asher said.

According to the Kaua‘i Police Department arrest log, officers arrested Moniz at 3:15 p.m., June 7.

In court, the 6-foot-3-inch, 345-pound Moniz appeared before the judge in a gray T-shirt and red shorts. Deputy prosecutor Geoffrey Lee and public defender Dena Renti Cruz handled the arraignment. Senda set bail at $340,000, ordered a bail study, and scheduled Moniz’ preliminary hearing for 1 p.m. on Wednesday in courtroom 2.

Delaplane said deputy prosecutor Lisa Arin, who specialized in sexual assault cases, will handle the preliminary hearing.

Delaplane explained that first-degree sexual assault is a Class A felony that involves sexual penetration by strong compulsion.

It is punishable by up to 20 years. Third-degree sexual abuse, a Class C felony can come with a five-year maximum penalty, and kidnapping, which is a Class B felony, can garner up to 10 years.

According to the sex offender registry at the Hawai‘i Criminal Justice Data Center, in June 1995, Moniz pleaded no contest to two counts of third-degree sexual assault in Fifth Circuit Court. His original charges included those two counts, as well as first-degree attempted sexual assault and four counts of promoting intoxicating liquor to a minor. Judge George Masuoka sentenced Moniz to 10 years prison time, with credit given for time served.

People interested in identifying sex offenders in their neighborhood can access the sex offender registry at www.sexoffenders.hawaii.gov.

 “It’s a powerful and freely accessible tool that the public can use to stay vigilant about convicted sex offenders living in our community,” Delaplane said.

• Jessica Musicar, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by e-mailing jmusicar@thegardenisland.com.

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