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Puna Man Charged with the Sexual Assault and Kidnapping of a Minor

by Thunda

Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen announced that a Puna man, 40 year-old James Pomaikai Kepa, was charged with offenses related to the sexual assault and kidnapping of a minor, whom Kepa was prohibited from having contact with by court order. The incident is alleged to have taken place on August 15, 2023 at a residence in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision.

As the Complaint alleges, Kepa was charged with two counts of Sexual Assault in the First Degree (knowingly engaged in sexual penetration with a minor who was less than fourteen years old) and a single count each of Kidnapping (restrained another person by means of force, and/or threat, and/or without the consent of the relative, person, or institution having lawful custody of a minor, with intent to inflict bodily injury upon said minor and/or subject said minor to a sexual offense), Assault in the Second Degree (knowingly cause bodily injury to another person whom defendant is restrained from by order of any court), and Violation of an Order for Protection. The most serious charge, Sexual Assault in the First Degree, is a class A felony offense and carries a penalty of a twenty-year prison term. Prosecutors have provided notice in the Complaint of an intention to seek an extended term of imprisonment.

Kepa is scheduled to make his initial appearance on Monday afternoon in Hilo District Court. He remains in custody in lieu of $610,000.00 bail.

The felony investigation was led by Acting Detective Corey Kaneko, Area I Juvenile Aid Section, Hawai‘i Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ha‘aheo Kaho‘ohalahala.

The charges are merely allegations, and the Defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, please go to a safe place, and call a trusted friend or relative for support. You can call 911 to report the sexual assault to the police. The YWCA Hawai‘i Island 24-Hour Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline has advocates available 7 days a week to provide support and advocacy. They can be reached at (808) 935-0677.
The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney remains dedicated to the pursuit of justice with integrity and commitment. Anyone having information to assist local law enforcement should call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

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