New plea deal in sexual assault case

LIHU‘E — A repeat sex offender was in 5th Circuit Court Wednesday but will have more time to review a new plea offer before a possible change of plea.

Joseph Costa Rita Sr., 71, is charged with sexually assaulting a minor on several occasions. He has been held at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center on $100,000 bail since his arrest in August.

State Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato said the prosecution has presented an updated plea offer but that she needed more time to go over it with the defendant. She did not request a continuance and the next hearing will be the Sept. 10 trial date should there not be an earlier motion entered for a change of plea.

Judge Kathleen N. A. Watanabe presided over the hearing.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Arin represented the state.

The crimes allegedly occurred between June 1 and Aug. 14. Rita is accused of engaging in three or more acts of sexual penetration and sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl.

The third-degree charges are for having sexual contact with the minor’s breasts and posterior on three separate occasions. He was indicted on Sept. 14.

This is Rita’s third sex-related crime case, according to information on the State of Hawai‘i Sex Offender Registry. The registry notes a 1996 conviction for second-degree sexual assault and that Rita lost an appeal on the 10-year sentence. He was also convicted of incest in 1996 and was sentenced to five years.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.