State briefs for October 5

Closed Waikiki bar must pay $250K for sex harassment lawsuit

HONOLULU — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the owners of a shuttered Waikiki sports bar must pay more than $250,000 in penalties for sexual harassment.

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A lawsuit says an owner, managers and patrons of Snappers Sports Bar and Grill subjected women employees to harassment, including lewd comments about their bodies and inappropriate touching.

Pacific Fun Enterprises, doing business as Snappers Sports Bar and Grill and Snap-ette Beach and Liquor Store filed for bankruptcy in 2017. The agency will try to recover the $250,000 through bankruptcy proceedings.

A bankruptcy attorney representing the company didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment. Court documents say Michael and Colleen Wenzel owned the bar. They couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The agency announced Friday that the ruling comes after the company failed to answer the lawsuit.

Convicted former power couple don’t want jury for 2nd trial

HONOLULU — A retired Honolulu police chief and his former prosecutor wife don’t want to be tried by a jury on charges including bank fraud and identity theft in Hawaii’s biggest corruption case.

Court documents show Louis and Katherine Kealoha are waiving their right to a jury trial and want a judge to decide the case.

Jurors convicted the Kealohas in June of conspiracy in a plot to frame a relative for stealing their home mailbox to hide fraud that financed the couple’s lavish lifestyle.

The second trial against them is scheduled for January. A judge wants to hear from them at a hearing Wednesday to ensure their waiver of a jury is “knowing, intelligent and voluntary.”

Earle Partington, one of Katherine Kealoha’s attorneys, says they’re negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.

Hawaii to require immunizations for sixth-grade students

HONOLULU — Hawaii will require sixth-graders to get the HPV vaccine and other immunizations before the start of the next school year, health officials said.

More than 13,200 sixth-grade students in public schools, including charters, will be affected by the new rule.

Parents risk the exclusion of their children from middle school enrollment without the immunizations, officials said.

Parents will need to provide proof a child received one dose each of the tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and meningococcal conjugate vaccines, officials said.

Students also will need proof of two doses, given six months apart, of the vaccine against HPV, a common sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical and other types of cancer, officials said.

The requirement does not apply to children in higher grades.

Beginning July 1, however, the state will require additional immunizations for students entering child care, preschool, kindergarten, seventh grade and postsecondary schools, officials said.

HPV infects nearly 80 million Americans, and health officials project more than 41,000 cases of new diagnoses of HPV-related cancers annually.

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A 2018 study by the University of Hawaii’s Office of Public Health Studies found only 35% of girls and 19% of boys had received the recommended HPV vaccine shots. Some parents are concerned that the vaccine could contribute to promiscuity, the study authors said.

“Like in anything brand new, there’s always going to be pushback,” said Ronald Balajadia of the Hawaii Department of Health’s immunization branch. “The issue more than anything else is that we’re talking about disease and we’re talking about trying to prevent cancer.”

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