LIHUE — A former Kauai Community Correctional Center inmate accused of raping a woman while out of jail on a work-release program is suing the warden and several other state employees involved in bringing criminal charges against him.
In a handwritten prisoner civil rights complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu on Monday, Makanani said a KCCC lieutenant who questioned him “coerced me to admit to consensual sex” with the alleged victim and threatened to “send me to Halawa High (a reference to the high-security wing of Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu) on false misconduct charges.”
KCCC Warden Neal Wagatsuma “also threaten me to comply with the investigator,” Makanani wrote in the complaint, “or I would end up in Halawa High for a long time.” The complaint also names a “grievance specialist,” or inmate counselor, and a KCCC sergeant, both of whom “also participated in a coerced investigation,” according to Makanani.
“They violated my 5th and 14th amendment rights to remain silent, and due process,” he wrote. “I lost my job, freedom, family and my reputation.”
The complaint also accuses Justin “Kohlar” — presumably Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar — of discriminating against him “when he went to the media to prosecute me in the court of public opinion,” and says Wagatsuma told KCCC officials “that it was a fact” Makanani committed the sexual assault he stands accused of.
“My reputation got injured when they label me as a sex offender,” Makanani wrote, saying the defendants named in his lawsuit conspired to label and treat him as though he were presumed guilty.
Makanani was indicted on sexual assault charges last year for an incident that allegedly took place in August 2018, when he was out of jail on a work-release program. Makanani admitted to having sex with the woman but has maintained the affair was consensual.
The case was dropped in May when a Fifth Circuit Court judge ruled that statements Makanani made to a correctional officer were inadmissible in court because he was questioned without being appropriately informed of his right to remain silent. Because the grand jury’s decision was based, in part, on those statements, the indictment was found to be invalid, and the entire case was dismissed.
County prosecutors were undeterred and obtained a second grand jury indictment about a month later. Makanani is currently being held in Halawa Correctional Facility on $500,000 bail. His trial is tentatively set for Oct. 28.
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.