Cruzada pleads no contest in sexual assault case

LIHU‘E — A Hanama‘ulu man has pleaded no contest to sexual assault charges in a case that involved a 14 year old minor in a 2007 incident.

John Palanca Cruzada, 57, of Hanama‘ulu, appeared before Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe in a Change of Plea Hearing Tuesday, and accepted a deal to plea no contest on two of four sexual assault charges. He moves to the sentencing phase on Nov. 30.

Cruzada was arrested on Dec. 1, 2008, on three counts each of first and third degree sexual assault with a minor. A revised indictment in November 2009 lists four Class A felony charges that went forward as sexual assault of a minor, first degree sexual assault and two counts of third degree sexual assault.

Michael Kaipoleimanu Soong was present to represent Cruzada and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Arin represented the prosecution.

Arin read the indictment, which stated the charges stemmed from a September 2007 incident in which Cruzada allegedly made sexual contact with the victim using his hands.

The no contest pleas on two of the four charges: second degree sexual assault, a Class B felony with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine; and third degree sexual assault, a Class C felony with a possibility of five years and a $5,000 fine.

Judge Watanabe ordered a psychosexual evaluation and a pre-sentencing diagnostic report to be prepared by the November hearing and also informed Cruzada that he must register with the State Sexual Offender Registry. The case is not final until the outcome of the reports but the plea stipulations show Cruzada accepting 18 months jail time and eight years probation.

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