Hanamaulu man gets year in jail for sex assault

LIHUE — A Hanamaulu man convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault against a minor was sentenced to 364 days jail on Thursday in 5th Circuit Court.

Ariel Alcantara Asunio, 41, pleaded no contest to three amended counts of misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault on July 3. It reduced the charges from the original felony of third-degree sexual assault charges in the June 23, 2011, indictment.

“I agree with the victim in asking that in sentencing there has to be substantial penalty for what happened,” Chief Judge Randal Valenciano said. “I know that you deny that the incident itself but the circumstances as described by the victim indicate there was bad intent on your part.”

Valenciano said victims sometimes choose not to testify. They do not wish to relive the events, and choose not to air them in a public forum.

The court had also granted a motion to suppress statements to police based on the lack of an interpreter at the time of questioning. Had the case gone to trial, his statements would not have been admissible as evidence.

These were factors in the plea agreement, Valenciano added. After reviewing the police report, the diagnostic reports, and statements from the victim and the defendant, the court chose not to sentence probation but issued the full jail term.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Arin said she was concerned the defendant still minimized his actions and expected that would change with the consequences of treatment and jail.

Asunio was arrested on three counts of third-degree sexual assault on June 27, 2011. A 5th Circuit grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Asunio, alleging the same charges that on June 3, 2011, he committed the offense of engaging in sexual contact with a person older than 14 years old but less than 16 years old.

Asunio appeared with a Tagalog interpreter. He made no statement to the court.

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