LIHUE — Opening arguments were heard Tuesday in Fifth Circuit Court in a jury trial against the former Kauai Police Department officer who would eventually become head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources on Kauai.
Sitting next to his defense attorney, Tarey Low listened quietly as the alleged victim testified under oath, describing six of the times she alleges he raped her.
Low, who faces multiple counts of sexual assault, is alleged to have began abusing the victim when she was 14 years old after he began a relationship with her mother.
“One weekend when (the victim’s), mom was on Oahu and her brother and sister were gone, (the victim), was alone in the living room watching TV. The defendant came in where she was and told her to go to a bedroom and he’d give her a massage,” Prosecutor Jennifer Winn told the court.
The victim was scared and didn’t know what to do, so she listened to Low. That was the first time the sexual assault is alleged to have happened. Low then allegedly told the victim not to tell anyone, or he would kill her, Winn said.
“(The victim) knew he could kill her and get away with it. At that point in time the defendant had over 25 years in law enforcement. He was the branch chief of DLNR DOCARE here on Kauai, the law enforcement agency that oversees all state lands,” Winn told the court.
The rapes continued for the next four years, Winn said, and the defendant continued to threaten her if she told anyone.
“A lot of those times seemed the same and blended together, so in this trial we’re going to concentrate on six of those times,” Winn said.
Defense Attorney Thomas Otake told the jury there are two sides to every story.
“When you wait and hear both sides in this case the evidence will show that Tarey Low did not sexually assault anyone. He never had any sexual contact with (the victim),” he said.
Instead, the evidence shows that the victim has some issues, he said.
When the victim got older, she moved in with her father and tried to get her brother and sister to move with her.
“Later on at some wedding when no one else was there, all in an effort to get her sister and brother there, she said these words to family members who then go and report it and she’s stuck, she has to make this report,” Otake said.
Otake argued the places where the alleged assaults supposedly happened, don’t make sense because it didn’t happen, he said.
Dressed in a gray, cowl neck sweater, the now 25-year-old victim took the stand, testifying under oath of the specific times and places these assaults were alleged to have happened.
During the testimony, Winn showed several photos of where the alleged abuse took place, several different beds and several different locations.
The victim told the court the first time she was assaulted was when her mom was away showing dogs at a dog show.
“I was in the living room watching the TV show Secret Life of the American Teenager. I was sitting on a section of the couch, there’s a three seater and there’s just that, how you can fit just two people on it, like not the big one, the love couch,” she testified.
That weekend, her brother and sister were with their dad.
“I was watching a rerun episode because the new episode comes on at eight o’clock at night,” she recalled.
Winn asked her if the defendant came in while she was watching the show.
The victim said he did. It was then that she said the defendant suggested a massage from all of the heavy lifting they had done, so she went into the bedroom testifying she was afraid of him and didn’t know what to do.
Through tears, the victim described the assault. After the assault, she testified that he told her not to tell anyone, or he would kill her.
In his cross-examination of the victim, Otake questioned her about the locations of the alleged assaults.
The victim agreed that one of their homes the abuse was alleged to have occurred in was a single-story, single-walled construction with no insulation.
“According to you in a house where single wall, creaky floors, rooms close by, Tarey creeps in in the middle of the night, right and, (your brother), is actually home asleep in his bed yes, according to your version of events, right? And you mention there’s a bathroom between your room and your mom’s room, but (your brother’s) room is actually directly attached to yours,” he said.
During that incident, the victim agreed with Otake that the defendant came into her room, hit his head on the top bunk of her bunk bead, which she laughed at, then attempted to smother her with a pillow, before he allegedly assaulted her.
Otake continued to question the alleged victim about all the other assaults and where they took place. He’ll continue his cross-examination today.
Low was born and raised on Kauai. He went to Oahu for school, but when his father was ill, he moved back to help take care of him. Eventually he leased some land in Kealia where he created a ranch.
The ranch was open to the community to learn this way of life. It was at this ranch that Low and the victim met. Eventually Low would meet the victim’s mother and they later began a relationship.
The victim was born and raised on Kauai and graduated from Kapaa High School. She attended Kauai Community College and works on Kauai.
Despite the allegations against the defendant, Otake said the victim’s mother remains married to him, while the victim’s brother and sister maintain a close relationship with their step-dad.
The trial is scheduled to continue today.