Man gets jail term for sexually assaulting girl

WAILUKU – With a mother saying she had been waiting for justice for her daughter, a Lanai man was taken into custody Tuesday to serve an 18-month jail term after being convicted of sexually assaulting the girl four years ago.

David Jon Baza, 34, was placed on five years’ probation as part of his sentence.

Baza, who was related to the girl, had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree sexual assault of the girl in early 2009 at a Lanai residence.

By pleading no contest, “he has not admitted to any offense, and he has agreed to be sentenced and face the possibility of jail with no jury trial,” said Baza’s attorney, Ben Lowenthal.

“People take deals for all kinds of reasons,” Lowenthal said. “It is a difficult place to be at this point to figure out what happened, given the conflicting evidence and the fact that this is so out of step with his character in the rest of his life.”

“It is unclear whether this actually happened in the first place,” Lowenthal said.

Deputy Prosecutor Cody Minatodani said the evidence showed that “this defendant committed this offense.”

When it occurred in January or February 2009, the victim was 6 years old, Minatodani said. She said Baza, who was 30, had been taking oxycodone, hydrocodone, Valium and medical marijuana during that time.

He waited until the girl’s mother wasn’t there and used a blindfold to trick the girl into performing a sex act on him, Minatodani said.

She said Baza’s statement to police included detailed information that was “very similar” to what the girl reported.

“The evidence in this case is not conflicting,” Minatodani said.

By reaching a plea agreement in the case, the girl was spared having to testify in a public courtroom, Minatodani said.

Speaking in court Tuesday, the girl’s mother said it was “a night I can never forget” when her daughter told her what happened.

“I have waited days on end for this day, for my daughter to have justice,” the mother said. “I want my daughter to have some kind of justice. She can never have that innocence back.”

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza followed a plea agreement in sentencing Baza to the jail term and probation. Baza was ordered to have no contact with the girl, who now lives on the Mainland.

He also was ordered to participate in sex offender treatment and to comply with sex offender registration requirements.

As part of his probation, Baza is to have no contact with any child and to not live in the same residence as a child without written permission from his probation officer and approval from Family Court.

Cardoza ordered Baza not to consume alcohol and illegal or unprescribed drugs, including medical marijuana unless he is authorized to do so by a written court order.