New sex predator law to get first test
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
A man charged this week with attempting to use the Internet to lure a minor into having sex with him will be the first person prosecuted under a new state law that carries a mandatory minimum of one year in jail.
Brian Y. Uejo, 43, was arrested Wed-nesday outside the McCully-Mo'ili'ili Public Library, where he allegedly had asked someone over the Internet he believed was a 15-year-old girl to rendezvous with him for sex.
Attorney General Mark Bennett, at a news conference yesterday with other members of the Hawai'i Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said law enforcement officials want sexual predators to know authorities take the crime seriously.
"The Internet is not always a safe place for children, and there are many individuals whose goal continually is to use the Internet in order to entice young children in order to have sex," Bennett said. "This is absolutely unacceptable in our society, and it violates serious criminal law."
Under the law that was passed by the Legislature this year, the crime of electronic enticement of a child carries a mandatory jail term of one year. Bennett said his office pushed for passage of the bill because state judges have been apt to give little or no jail time to such offenders, even as prosecutors were seeking the maximum 10-year prison sentences.
"We believe it is necessary for the courts of the state of Hawai'i to treat this as the serious offense that it is," Bennett said. A key reason why many convicted of the offense have received lighter sentences, he said, is because many are educated and have no previous criminal record.
Just because people are well-groomed, educated and well-mannered does not mean they are less dangerous, he said. "Indeed, a very strong argument can be made that (those characteristics are) what makes them more dangerous."
Uejo, a Nanakuli resident, is an accountant with Hawaiian Dredging and Construction. State attorneys said his only previous conviction was for driving without a license.
He was arraigned in District Court yesterday and was being held on $20,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is set for Tuesday.
Since the task force was formed two years ago, 14 people have been prosecuted. While prosecutors have always sought the maximum 10-year sentence, only one person spent a year in jail while some received small amounts of jail time as a condition of probation and others got deferrals, Bennett said.
Bennett said the task force wants to send a clear message to sexual predators: "We're watching, we are out there, we are monitoring what goes on on the Internet. You do not know whether you are dealing with a child or with us. And if we find you, we will get you, we will charge you and we will send you to jail."
NET SAFETY TIPS
Attorney General Mark Bennett says parents should take steps to shield their children from dangerous Internet activity. The Hawai'i Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has a site with safety tips at www.hicac .com.
Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at firstname.lastname@example.org.