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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Girl tells court she didn't fabricate sexual assault

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 15-year-old girl testified yesterday that her Wahiawa Middle School social studies teacher sexually assaulted her in his classroom on a Sunday in 2001 when they stopped by to get a video after spending part of the day together.

But defense attorney Victor Bakke, representing 29-year-old teacher Gabriel Kealoha, told the court that the girl made up the entire story as part of a pattern of "doing anything to gain sympathy."

The girl sobbed as she testified that she told the teacher "no" when he tried to kiss her and that he assaulted her on May 27, 2001.

The girl, who stands barely 4 feet tall, said she was afraid "because he is bigger than me."

After testifying in tears for most of an hour, the girl doggedly withstood Bakke's aggressive cross-examination about why she told different people different things about the matter at different times, and didn't tell parents or police until the following October.

The girl rejected Bakke's suggestions that she had had a crush on Kealoha. Bakke suggested she fantasized that the teacher loved her.

The girl said she had liked him and liked to spend time with him, because he was "like a brother."

Bakke had the couch on which the assault allegedly took place brought into the courtroom so he could question the girl in detail.

Kealoha, who has been on paid leave from his teaching job since he was indicted in December 2001, studiously took notes during the girl's testimony. During court breaks he turned to talk with family members who came to support him.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lucianne Khalaf objected when Bakke asked to bring into evidence material from the girl's e-mail and Web site.

Khalaf said much of the material had been created long after the assault and was not relevant.

Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn, saying that the cyber-material was completely new to her, withheld a ruling at least until the trial resumes today.

Reach Walter Wright at wwright@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8054.