State briefs for March 30

Ex-JROTC instructor charged with filming sex abuse

HONOLULU (AP) — A former Junior ROTC instructor at a Hawaii high school should remain locked up pending trial because he allegedly sexually abused a student and made video recordings of his abuse, U.S. prosecutors said.

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Victor Aguilar, 65, made a court appearance Monday by phone from the Honolulu Federal Detention Center after he was charged with two counts of producing sexually explicit child pornography videos of a minor victim.

Prosecutors allege Aguilar sexually exploited the girl in his home, in his vehicle and at Waimea High School on Kauai, where he was her Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor. He also faces related sex assault charges in state court.

“The nature and circumstances of the offense reveal that while in a trusted position with ready access to minors, Aguilar abused his power and physically victimized at least one young woman,” prosecutors said in a motion asking for his detention. “The government is greatly concerned that Aguilar will reach out to contact the Minor Victim — and any other victims that the government is still in the process of identifying.”

Aguilar texted the alleged victim after he learned about the state investigation, prosecutors said.

Assistant Federal Defender Max Mizono said he reviewed the complaint with Aguilar, who understands the general nature of the two charges he faces. Aguilar did not enter a plea because that will come later in the judicial process.

A detention hearing for Aguilar is scheduled for Thursday.

Labor union files grievance over rail project layoffs

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s largest labor union has filed a grievance over recent layoffs by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which is building a delayed and beleaguered commuter rail line project.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association said the agency has laid off dozens of staffers and contract workers since Lori Kahikina assumed her role as interim CEO in January.

The union said the authority should have provided workers with 90 days notice. It is asking for reinstatement of the laid off workers, restoral of lost wages and at least a 90-day notification for future layoffs.

Authority spokesman Joey Manahan said the rail authority has not yet reviewed the union’s grievance.

City officials broke ground for the commuter rail system in 2011, estimating it would cost $5.5 billion to build the 20-mile line in eight years.

Last year, the transportation authority raised the cost estimate to $9.1 billion and the city said it wouldn’t be completed until 2033. Officials have blamed ballooning costs on construction delays, financing problems and low initial cost estimates.

Kahikina was certain that the layoffs were needed, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said.

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“In my discussions with Lori Kahikina who is the new CEO — she seems adamant that the new decisions that have been made have been in the best interest in the project,” Blangiardi said. “There was a feeling from the evaluations being made that we had a lot of redundancies.”

The rail line is envisioned as running from Honolulu’s western suburbs to downtown and Ala Moana, the site of the city’s biggest shopping center and a bus transit hub. Supporters hope the train will prevent chronically heavy commuter traffic on the city’s freeways from getting worse.

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