State briefs for April 2

  • In this undated photo released by Kauai Police Department is Victor Aguilar. U.S. prosecutors want a former Junior ROTC instructor at a Hawaii high school to remain locked up pending trial because he allegedly sexually abused a student and filmed the abuse. Victor Aguilar appeared for a court appearance by phone from the Honolulu Federal Detention Center on Monday, March 29, 2021. (Kauai Police Department via AP)

  • FILE - This April 24, 2004, file photo provided by Richard Borreca, then-Gov. Linda Lingle speaks in Honolulu about a proclamation declaring “Bruce Dunford Day” as retiring Associated Press reporter Dunford listens. Dunford died peacefully in his sleep at a care home on Friday, March 26, 2021, his son Terrence Dunford said. (Richard Borreca via AP, File)

Longtime AP Hawaii political reporter Bruce Dunford dies

HONOLULU — Bruce Dunford, whose exploits as a longtime Associated Press reporter prompted then-Gov. Linda Lingle to declare the day he retired “Bruce Dunford Day,” has died, his family said.

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Dunford died in his sleep Friday at a care home in Ewa Beach, near Honolulu, said his son, Terrence Dunford. He was 79.

Bruce Dunford reported for the AP for 37 years, including more than two decades covering Hawaii politics. A tongue-in-cheek proclamation Lingle issued upon his 2004 retirement said he would be “forever known as the Capitol Jester” for his puns, jokes and put-downs.

Richard Borreca, who covered politics about the same time for what was then the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, recalled gossiping with Dunford during a lunch “with an appropriate disrespect for all the political players in town.” Borreca said one of the charming things about Dunford, whose preferred work attire was a pair of jeans and an aloha shirt and who enjoyed riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, was that he never took himself too seriously.

“Bruce was a one of a kind — an irreverent, unimpressionable reporter and the absolute definition of a heart of gold,” Borreca said. “There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do, especially if there was a beer involved.”

Born in Medford, Ore., and raised in Flagstaff, Ariz., Dunford joined the AP in Honolulu in 1967 after learning to be a journalist in the Navy. He met his wife when he was stationed in Hawaii and she was working at the Pink Poodle ice cream parlor in Waikiki, Terrence Dunford said.

Bruce Dunford attended the University of Hawaii for a while after leaving the Navy but started working for the AP when his second son was born and a position opened at the wire service.

Dunford also is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ann; three other sons, Kenneth, David and Robert; four grandchildren and a sister, Pat Dunford.

Ex-Junior ROTC instructor detained in Kauai child porn case

HONOLULU — A former Junior ROTC instructor at a Hawaii high school must remain behind bars on allegations he sexually abused a student and filmed the abuse, U.S. judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter granted prosecutors’ request to keep Victor Aguilar detained pending trial. Aguilar, 65, poses a “very serious danger to the community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith told Porter during a hearing in which Aguilar appeared by phone from the Honolulu Federal Detention Center.

Aguilar used his position of trust and authority at Waimea High School on Kauai to exploit the girl, Smith said. He also kept folders on his computer of photos of dozens of other students in bikinis, Smith said.

Defense attorney Alen Matsuo Kaione Kaneshiro asked that Aguilar be released to home confinement under the supervision of Aguilar’s wife. Porter denied the request.

Aguilar has no prior criminal history and and “he’s done a lot of work for the community on Kauai,” Kaneshiro said.

If convicted of two counts of producing sexually explicit child pornography videos of a minor victim, Aguilar faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years.

Virus outbreak at Maui church leads to at least 55 cases

HONOLULU — A coronavirus outbreak tied to a church on Maui has resulted in at least 55 positive cases, according to the state Department of Health.

State health officials asked anyone who attended events at King’s Cathedral in Kahului to get tested for the coronavirus. Officials also asked the church to cancel all its upcoming in-person events until the outbreak is over, but said the church has so far been unwilling to comply.

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The first virus cases associated with the church began March 7. The outbreak has affected people from ages 10-77 and the cluster has nearly doubled during the past week and a half or so.

The virus also spread from the church to a school and a workplace, and officials are concerned that spillover cases might threaten the general population.

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