Hypnosis had role in sex assault, girl testifies
By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer
By Ken Kobayashi
A 15-year-old girl testified yesterday that her 'Aiea dance instructor — a person her family trusted and whom she considered a big brother — molested her twice at her home last year, both times trying to hypnotize her.
The teenager said that on the first occasion, Daniel E. Jones told her he would hypnotize her and "anywhere he touched would feel good," then massaged her and placed his hands on her breasts and buttocks.
On the second occasion, she said, Jones tickled her, moved his hand up her thigh, touched her private parts and then told her he would hypnotize her so she "would forget everything that just happened."
The girl said she wasn't hypnotized, but played along because she knew Jones was interested in hypnotism and she didn't want to hurt his feelings by saying it didn't work.
"I felt really uncomfortable and I was violated," she testified.
The girl was the first prosecution witness as a sex-assault trial got under way for Jones, a 21-year-old former principal dancer and instructor at the Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy in 'Aiea. He is charged with molesting five students in 2004 and 2005 when they were 12 to 15 years old.
Jones is charged with four counts of first-degree sex assault and 14 counts of third-degree sex assault.
Allegations that young dance students were being molested by the instructor at the studio, which has been in business for more than 50 years, unnerved the community.
But Rosalie Woodson, the academy's founder, told reporters after Jones' arrest that she and the studio supported him. Yesterday, Jones' lawyer, Myron Takemoto, told the jury that his client did not molest the students.
The 15-year-old girl, the first of the five teenagers scheduled to testify in the trial, appeared composed as she answered questions clearly and concisely. But she left the courtroom after about two hours on the witness stand wiping away tears.
City Deputy Prosecutor Thalia Murphy told jurors in her opening statement that Jones "violated the innocence" of the five girls by molesting them for sexual gratification. The students and their families socialized with Jones and his family and the girls came to regard him as a "big brother," Murphy said.
The sexual assaults, Murphy said, occurred at the students' homes, at an overnight camp and at the academy.
But Takemoto told the jury that Jones did not engage in sex with any of the girls.
He said the case is about a "wildfire of hysteria" fueled by one of the five girls who was suicidal and obsessed with Jones, who had rejected her.
Takemoto said the case also involves police not doing a full investigation and will not produce any medical, scientific or physical evidence, nor any witnesses, to corroborate the girls' accusations.
He said each of the allegations are similar and that the teenagers discussed them among themselves.
Takemoto portrayed Jones as a playful tickler and good-natured instructor who got along with kids and adults at a studio where massages were common. The defense attorney also said Jones was interested in hypnosis as a way to help people.
The first witness yesterday was 13 at the time she said she was molested in February 2005.
"I was really shocked and confused, mostly," the girl said.
Under questioning by the defense, she acknowledged that other family members were home on both occasions and that she gave statements to police in April last year that differed from her testimony, including the exact location where Jones molested her.
The girl said she didn't immediately report the incidents to her parents because they trusted Jones and she feared they might not believe her. She also testified she feared she wouldn't be able to continue at the dance studio, where she had been taking lessons for about 10 years.
"I kinda grew up there," she said. "Everyone there was close to me like my family."
But she said she later told her mother after chatting on the Internet with another dance student who said she had been molested by Jones.
Jones, who is free on bond, has been with the studio for years. His mother works as a secretary there and two sisters worked as instructors. Takemoto did not indicate to the jury whether Jones will be taking the witness stand.
A conviction of first-degree sex assault carries a mandatory maximum 20-year sentence; third-degree sex assault carries up to five years in prison. Because of his age, if convicted of first-degree sex assault, Jones would be eligible for an eight-year prison term as a youthful offender.
Reach Ken Kobayashi at email@example.com.