LIHUE — A former high school track coach was sentenced in Fifth Circuit Court on Wednesday on one count of sexual assault in the fourth degree and six counts of violating an order of protection.
Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe granted the defense’s motion to defer the sexual assault charge against Jordan K.H. Kahawai because he has no prior convictions for this type of offense.
Kahawai was sentenced to six months of jail concurrent for both charges and was remanded to jail directly following the sentencing. He was also ordered to serve one year of probation on the deferred sexual assault charge and two years of probation on the order of protection violations.
Deputy County Prosecutor Keola Siu said this case had a lot of different aspects to it, the most significant being the position of authority Kahawai was in, not only as a coach but also in the community in his position as a firefighter.
“His job put her (the victim) in a position where she was going to trust basically whatever he said. The people that were aware of the situation, the other coaches, they noticed that there was an inappropriate relationship. Mr. Kahawai was not one of her coaches. He had no business talking to the victim in this case,” he said.
Kahawai spent time with the victim and groomed her for this sort of relationship, Siu told the court.
“It’s highly inappropriate for him to have her contact information. Facebook, Instagram, there were over 1,200 pages of communications between them. It’s just shocking, given the position he was in that he would abuse the public’s trust in this way and take advantage of a relationship,” he said.
At one point, Siu said Kahawai was told to stay away from practices, but instead of staying home he would be outside of the fence line, so he was complying with the coaches who said he was no longer welcome.
Kahawai even traveled to Maui during state championships despite being told that he was no longer welcome at team functions.
“He went there and he met her, and there are references of him going to their hotel room and meeting at the beach that night on Maui,” Siu said.
During his time as coach, Siu said Kahawai had team building functions at his home, where his students were invited over for dinner and movie nights.
The sex assault happened days before the victim’s 16th birthday, which Siu argued shows how selfish Kahawai was.
“So many things that he has done that he did at that time to obscure, to make it seem like he was a good person to avoid consequences,” Siu said. “We believe that his conduct and the position of power that he was in, he does not deserve deferral. He should be sentenced to six months in jail. ”
Defense Attorney Alfred Castillo mentioned a letter written by the state that says his client has no regard for the law.
“What I would like the court to consider is he (Kahawai) has stayed out of trouble for three years. He is now leading a healthy lifestyle, staying physically fit. In the pre-sentencing investigation, it says he used to drink, but he stopped,” Castillo said.
In addition, he’s completed counseling and has begun his psycho-sexual examination, which has yet to be completed due to complications. The defendant also broke off a relationship so that he could work on himself, Castillo said.
“Your honor, this shows to you his personal growth, his level off maturity. He demonstrates and understands the consequences of his misconduct in terms of maturity,” he said.
Watanabe said there were a number of factors she had to look at, but one of the determining factors when the court considers a motion to defer is to figure out whether the defendant will re-offend or be a law-abiding citizen.
“It all comes down to weighing all of those factors, weighing all of those statements made on your behalf as well as against you and then coming up hopefully with the right decision,” she said.
Due to the severity of the crime and as conditions of the deferral, in addition to serving six months of jail time, with credit for time served, Kahawai will also serve two years of probation, supervised by the Hope Probation staff.
Failing to complete the program, probation could be revoked and he could be re-sentenced to the maximum penalty according to the law, which would be a year in jail and $2,000 fine.
Kahawai was not ordered to register as a sex offender, but if he loses the deferral, he’ll have to complete a sex offender program and will have to register for a minimum of 10 years.
In a statement to the court Wednesday, Kahawai apologized to the victim and the victim’s family.
“I just want to say that I’m sorry to for the past three years,” Kahawai said. “It’s been tough on her and tough on her parents, and that I wish her the best.”
The victim also gave a victim’s impact statement during the hearing.
The victim told the court there was so much she wished to say, but she couldn’t concentrate. She said this is not what she wanted to happen to her or Kahawai, but it did happen.
She said the experience took a toll on her, emotionally and psychologically.
“The fact that nobody was there to help me, nobody could see through my point of view and that was really frustrating,” she said.
It was a hard time in her life, and Kahawai was someone she trusted.
“It’s not like I wanted this to happen,” she said.
At the time of his arrest in 2016, Kahawai was 24 years old.
According to a County of Kauai press release published Aug. 5, 2016, a complaint was filed by a parent on behalf of their juvenile daughter in 2015. During a court hearing on the complaint, a protective order was granted effective until June 8, 2017.
Kahawai was arrested for 28 separate counts of violating that order and released on $28,000 bail. He was also arrested in July of that year for violating the same protective order on 29 separate occasions. His bail for that arrest was set at $4,350, which was posted that day.
Kahawai was employed with the Kauai Fire Department from May 1, 2014 to Nov. 30, 2017. The state Department of Education could not be reached Wednesday to confirm Kahawai’s dates of employment.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.