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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 8, 2006

Judge dismisses Waikiki sex assault charges

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

The refusal of two Japanese women to return here to testify in a sex assault case has led to the dismissal of felony charges against another Japanese national accused of raping the two at a Waikiki hotel last year.

Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall dismissed the second-degree sex assault charges against Taizo Kirihara, 24, who was released from nearly six months in custody following the judge's ruling Tuesday afternoon.

Kirihara's lawyer, Victor Bakke, yesterday said Kirihara wept in happiness and relief. He hugged his mother and girlfriend, who flew in from Japan for his trial, and he plans to return to Japan, Bakke said.

Goro Miki, 25, another Japanese national, was also charged with raping the two women. Crandall did not dismiss the charges against him because he posted $250,000 in cash for his release on bail but didn't show up for court hearings in March. His bail was forfeited and a bench warrant for his arrest is still pending, with new bail set at $500,000.

Kirihara and Miki were accused of raping two women whom they met in Waikiki on Dec. 14 last year.

The four went to the women's hotel room Dec. 15, police said. The women got drunk, and Kirihara and Miki are charged with taking advantage of them.

City prosecutors arranged for the payment of the women's airline tickets to Honolulu, but it was disclosed before the start of jury selection Tuesday for Kirihara's trial that the two sent letters saying they do not intend to return here and do not want to prosecute the case.

Crandall's dismissal does not bar city prosecutors from reinstating Kirihara's charges.

But Bakke said it's not likely that Kirihara will be charged again in view of the women's letters.

Had the case gone to trial, Kirihara's defense would have been that the two women consented to having sex, Bakke said.

Kirihara was in custody awaiting trial because he could not post $250,000 bail.

The charges remain pending against Miki because he is considered a fugitive.

If he's caught, he may face misdemeanor charges of contempt of court, Bakke said, but the sex assault charges at that point would be dropped.

Jim Fulton, spokesman for the city prosecutor's office, said they hope that the women someday will return, but there is no way to compel them to come here. He said he thinks additional efforts will be made to contact them and persuade them to return to Honolulu.

Second-degree sex assault carries a prison term of up to 10 years.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.