Prosecutor objects to release of sex assault suspect


County Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen said Wednesday his office will file a motion requesting reconsideration of a judge’s order to grant court-supervised release without monetary bail to a defendant in a felony sexual assault case.

Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto on Tuesday granted a motion by Deputy Public Defender Zachary Wingert to free 44-year-old Sony O. Raymond of Kurtistown over the objection of Deputy Prosecutor Suzanna Tiapula.


Raymond is charged with second-degree sexual assault, which is defined as knowingly subjecting another person to an act of sexual penetration by compulsion. The offense is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction.

According to court documents filed by police, on June 5 at about 11:30 a.m., a 25-year-old Hilo woman reported a man came to her home to look at a vehicle parked in her yard.

Documents state the man, who identified himself as “Ray,” told the woman he was “a healer” and that her back was misaligned.

The woman said she gave Ray permission to massage her while in the yard, but that he crouched before her and thrust his thumb up her shorts and underwear and penetrated her.

The woman slapped the man’s hand, causing him to pull back and notified police, according to documents.

While police interviewed the woman, documents state, she pointed to a passing vehicle and exclaimed, “That’s him!”

Police conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and arrested Raymond, according to documents.

The woman, a roommate and another witness all identified Raymond as the man in the yard, documents state.

Raymond had been in custody since his arrest, unable to post $25,000 bail. Prosecutors set bail high because of the nature of the alleged occurrence and the “serious risk” that Raymond “may attempt to intimidate, contact or injure the victim and witness” since he knows where they live, according to documents.

Raymond, who Wingert said is in negotiations for a plea deal, is scheduled to start trial on Nov. 8.

But the trial — if it occurs — will be later because state Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald on Wednesday postponed the start of all jury trials in Hawaii to Nov. 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trials were to have resumed on Oct. 4.


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

Email John Burnett at

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