Keaau restaurant owner charged with sex assault

  • JIXUE HE

A Hilo grand jury indicted a man identified in court documents as the owner of Lemongrass Restaurant in Keaau for allegedly sexually assaulting an employee.

The four-count indictment, dated Sept. 4, charges 47-year-old Jixue He of Hilo, also known as Andy He, with attempted second-degree sexual assault and three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.

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According to the indictment, He engaged in a “course of conduct intended to culminate in” subjecting the victim, an adult woman, “to an act of sexual penetration by compulsion.”

The Tribune-Herald does not identify victims of sexual assault unless they choose to go public.

According to a court document filed by police, on Aug. 27 the employee said she was in the back storage room of the restaurant to retrieve takeout trays. The woman told police the trays were stacked on the room’s top shelf, so she climbed on a chair to retrieve them.

The woman reportedly told police that while she was standing on the chair, He asked if she needed help. When she answered “yes,” He climbed onto the same chair.

According to the document, the woman told officers that He grabbed her right breast through her clothing. She added that He then put his hand into her shirt and bra and fondled her breast briefly, which caused the woman to pause in shock and disbelief, the document states.

The woman said He then exposed her breast and licked it while putting his hand down her shorts, the document states.

He stopped, the woman reportedly told police, after she called out for help.

The case already was in Hilo District Court when the grand jury indicted He. According to court records, He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Sept. 17, but the indictment moves the case to Hilo Circuit Court, where it will be heard by Judge Henry Nakamoto after He is re-arrested on a bench warrant issued after the indictment.

Attempted second-degree sexual assault is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction. Fourth-degree sexual assault is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

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He is free on $28,000 bail. His attorney, Jennifer Wharton, didn’t return a phone call made Tuesday.

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

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