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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 28, 2008

Missing teen was accused of abuse

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hans Poouahi Jr

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HILO, Hawai'i A 17-year-old boy who was implicated three years ago in child abuse that nearly caused the death of a 10-year-old Big Island girl has run away from his O'ahu home, and police believe he may be back on the Big Island.

Hans Poouahi Jr., who was accused of abusing the girl when he was 13, has been missing from his O'ahu home since Aug. 22, police said.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services said the department has permanent custody of Hans, but declined to release any other information because of a Family Court gag order in connection with the case.

In February 2005, the abused girl was found on a couch on the lanai of an 'Ainaloa home with a cut on her head that was "decomposing and containing maggots." She also had injuries to her upper lip and other areas of her body that showed "signs of decomposition," according to court records.

The girl also was suffering from severe dehydration and malnutrition, and had broken bones in her left hand and left foot. She went into cardiac arrest at the hospital and had to be revived, and was in a coma at the hospital for a time.

A doctor at Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children who treated the girl told police that marks on the girl's body suggested she had been bound, and that "she had several areas of dead tissue about her body as a result of pressure ulcering (often called bedsores) and burns that appeared to be from a cigarette and cigarette lighter," according to a District Court affidavit.

Hyacinth L. Poouahi, Hans' mother and caregiver for the abused girl, pleaded guilty to four felony charges in the abuse case in May, and was originally scheduled for sentencing yesterday. Sentencing was later rescheduled to Oct. 29.

Court records show that one of Poouahi's daughters alleged in 2005 after the 10-year-old was hospitalized that Hans Poouahi had been hurting the girl, and alleged that in one instance the youth stabbed the girl in the ankle with a steak knife.

The girl and her family are not being identified by The Advertiser to protect the girl's privacy.

Hyacinth Poouahi's lawyer, Keith Shigetomi, said when she entered her plea that she was responsible for the girl, knew the girl was being hurt and failed to rescue her, but said Poouahi did not actually inflict the severe injuries the child suffered.

Shigetomi declined to say who did assault the girl, other than to say that "there were a number of people who caused the injuries." He said at least one other person has been charged in the case, but declined to elaborate.

No information has been released publicly about whether Hans Poouahi was ever charged with a crime in Family Court.

Hyacinth Poouahi is the only adult who was charged in the case, and pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, terroristic threatening and endangering the welfare of a child. In exchange for those guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of attempted murder.

Poouahi, 40, faces up to 10 years in prison for the assault charge and up to five years in prison for each of the other charges when she is sentenced.

The girl was not related to Poouahi's family, and police and neighbors have said the girl had been dropped off in November 2004 at the Woodrose Drive home in 'Ainaloa by her mother, who was a friend of Poouahi.

Acquaintances of the injured girl and her mother have said the child had an unstable life and had been left with a series of caregivers over the years.

Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville has said the individual injuries the girl suffered initially "were not that serious," but became critical because Hyacinth Poouahi didn't seek medical treatment for the girl.

The girl, now 13, is living with family on the Big Island.

Hans Poouahi Jr. is described as Hawaiian, 5 feet 8 and about 148 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Big Island Police Department's nonemergency line at 808935-3311. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call CrimeStoppers at 808-961-8300 in Hilo or 808-329-8181 in Kona. All CrimeStoppers information is kept confidential.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.