New trial denied for man convicted of sex assault

LIHUE —A man convicted of sexually assaulting a relative more than a decade ago will not get a new trial, a Kauai judge ruled Wednesday.

Larry Cass Ragasa, 45, by way of his attorney Craig De Costa, told the court that he was going to present new evidence and had a witness that would testify at the hearing for his motion for a new trial.

On March 11, Ragasa was convicted of two counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of sexual assault in the fourth degree for crimes he committed, which began in 2001, against a girl who was between 14 and 16 years old, according to an Oct. 13, 2010 indictment. The acts continued for eight years. Ragasa was arrested in 2010.

The new witness to testify was Ragasa’s wife who had been subpoenaed twice before by the state, but had claimed spousal privilege each time, according to court testimony Wednesday.

Ragasa’s wife testified that when she had been subpoenaed, she was under a lot of stress and did not want to testify in the trial, not only because of “spousal privilege,” but also becasue the victim was was her relative.

Several documents, which were part of the motion, were not previously introduced as evidence because Ragasa’s wife was the bookkeeper in the family, De Costa argued. Ragasa did not have direct access to the documents that would prove his innocence, he said.

She testified that she was the one who kept all the paperwork and remembered dates in the family.

After closing arguments during the March trial, Ragasa’s wife approached De Costa and told him that the dates the state was using to indict Ragasa were incorrect, according to defense’s motion.

She showed him three documents – a lending disclosure that showed purchase date of their house, the title of the Ragasa’s truck with date it was sold as new and a certificate of origin for Ragasa’s motorcycle with a date on it – which she said would prove that it was “impossible for the complaining witnesses’ time periods to have been true,” the motion showed.

In the motion, Ragasa argued that the victim was already 16 years old at the time of the earliest incident—the remote incident – and that no penetration had occurred prior to her turning 16 years old.

The state said the victim was 13 years old when the remote incident took place at the couple’s home in Hanapepe, but defense argued in its motion that it was impossible because the two did not live there until after September 2000.

First deputy prosecuting attorney Jennifer Winn argued that defense could have easily obtained the three documents before the March trial because the husband and wife were living together and their disclosure now did not mean they were not available then.

It was not new evidence enough to warrant a new trial, she said.

Winn further argued that just because Ragasa’s wife was stressed didn’t mean she didn’t have to testify in a trial and that the defense also had access to her but chose not to subpoena her.

“If I had known what she was going to testify to, of course I would have called her as a witness,” De Costa said. “Whether I was ineffective for not finding another source — I don’t know of another source who could have come up with as clear of an account as she did — then fine, I will take the consequences of that. But I don’t think an innocent man should go to prison when we now know the facts.”

Sexual assault in the first degree is a class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while fourth-degree sexual assault is punishable by one year in the county jail.

A written motion to revoke bail brought forth by the state was denied by the court. It was the third motion to revoke bail that was denied by the court.

Ragasa is scheduled to be sentenced June 1.

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