Hilo man pleads not guilty to sexually assaulting minor

  • CLIFTON KUA

A 43-year-old Hilo man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the alleged repeated sexual assault of a minor between September 2011 and October 2017.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered Clifton John Keliikanakaole Kua to appear for trial at 9 p.m. March 16. He’s charged with continuous sexual assault of a minor younger than 14 and two counts of sexual assault of a minor between the ages of 14 and 16.

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All of the charges are Class A felonies that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years upon conviction.

Kua was indicted by a Hilo grand jury on Oct. 23. The indictment accuses Kua of “recklessly engaging in three or more acts of sexual penetration or sexual contact” with a victim who was born in 2003.

Such acts allegedly continued during a period in which the victim was younger than 14 years old, while Kua allegedly engaged in similar acts at least twice in the later months of 2017, when the victim was older than 14.

Kua, who was arrested Wednesday morning on a bench warrant issued with the indictment, is in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $150,000 bail.

At his arraignment Wednesday, Deputy Public Defender Zachary Wingert requested the judge reduce Kua’s bail to $50,000, while Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa argued Kua’s bail should be maintained at $150,000.

Nakamura ruled in the state’s favor, but told Wingert he’s free to file a written motion seeking bail reduction.

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Kua was ordered to turn over any firearms he may have to police, to have no contact with the minor victim, and to have no unsupervised contact with minors.

Kua has no prior criminal record other than some minor traffic offenses, the most recent of which took place in 2004.

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