Hilo man pleads guilty to sexually assaulting minor

  • KUA

A 45-year-old Hilo man pleaded guilty Wednesday to the repeated sexual assault of a minor between September 2011 and October 2017.

Clifton John Keliikanakaole Kua entered guilty pleas to charges of continued sexual assault of a minor younger than 14 and sexual assault of a minor between the ages of 14 and 16. In exchange for his guilty pleas, prosecutors dropped another count of sexual assault of a minor between the ages of 14 and 16.

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In addition, the state agreed to concurrent sentences of 20 years for both offenses, instead of running the sentences consecutively. Also agreed to by prosecutors was capping its minimum sentence recommendation to the Hawaii Paroling Authority at 10 years, provided Kua successfully complete the Department of Public Safety’s sex offender treatment program prior to being paroled.

In addition, Kua — who has no prior criminal record other than some minor traffic offenses — will have to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.

The Tribune-Herald doesn’t identity minor victims or sexual assault victims unless they decide to go public.

Kua appeared via Zoom from Hawaii Community Correctional Center for his change-of-plea hearing. He’s been incarcerated almost two years in lieu of $150,000 bail after being indicted by a Hilo grand jury on Oct. 23, 2019.

He answered most questions from Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto with a brief “yes, Your Honor” or “no, Your Honor.”

When Nakamoto asked, “Are you pleading guilty because after discussing all the evidence and having received advice of the law from your lawyer, you believe that you’re guilty of the two counts you’re pleading to?” there was a noticeable pause before Kua replied “yes, Your Honor.”

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Nakamoto ordered Kua to return for sentencing at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 15 via Zoom from HCCC if the jail hasn’t resumed transporting inmates to court because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.