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Arc of Hilo driver suspended for alleged rape of disabled woman

Corrections: 
The date of the alleged sex assault was June 30. An incorrect date appeared in an earlier version of this story. The Tribune-Herald regrets the error.

Louis Sardis, a 65-year-old driver for The Arc of Hilo accused of sexually assaulting a mentally and physically disabled woman June 30 aboard one of the nonprofit organization’s service vans, is currently suspended from his job.

“He is on suspension. From the first day that this incident happened, he is on suspension,” The Arc of Hilo President and CEO Debbie Perkins said Wednesday.

Perkins declined to answer a question about possible procedural changes in The Arc’s transportation program.

“I would like to give you information, but we don’t want to jeopardize any kind of police investigation that’s ongoing by saying anything about this case,” Perkins said. “… And we don’t want to violate any labor laws by saying anything about this case.”

Sardis is charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault. According to court documents, two witnesses saw Sardis “on top of” the 32-year-old woman “moving in an up and down motion behind the driver’s seat” of the vehicle.

The assault allegedly occurred on a residential street in Orchidland Estates subdivision. The alleged victim was described in court by Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Shiigi as “mentally and physically challenged and vulnerable.”

Court records indicate Sardis, who has no prior criminal record, was freed from custody Monday on $49,000 bond.

Sardis is scheduled to appear before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura at 8 a.m. July 19 for arraignment and plea.

On July 6, Deputy Public Defender Jeff Ng told Hilo District Judge Robert Crudele that Sardis was waiving his right to a preliminary hearing and considering a proposed plea offer from prosecutors.

Ng said the proposal requires Sardis to plead to two counts of first-degree sexual assault in return for “concurrent open terms of incarceration.”

First-degree sexual assault is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment. An open term of incarceration means the actual amount of time Sardis will be required to serve, if he accepts the plea deal, will be decided by the Hawaii Paroling Authority.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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