Bail amount maintained in child-molestation case

WAILUKU – Bail remains at $1 million for a convicted sex offender charged with sexually abusing three children while his girlfriend was their baby sitter.

Lawrence Verzosa, 49, of Kahului also has been on probation since August 2012, when he pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery in connection with a murder-for-hire scheme. He spent nearly six years in jail before being released.

During a hearing Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court, Verzosa sought a reduction in bail in his current case.

Deputy Public Defender Annalisa Bernard asked that bail be lowered to “standard” amounts of $25,000 to $50,000 for each of the 15 sexual assault counts.

Deputy Prosecutor Kim Whitworth opposed any reduction. “This isn’t a standard case,” she said.

The children, who are sisters, were ages 7, 8 and 13 when the sexual assaults were committed from January 2013 to January this year, Whitworth said.

She said Verzosa’s criminal history includes a third-degree sexual assault conviction in a 1989 case involving a child victim.

“He should not have been around children,” Whitworth said. “He’s a convicted felon. He is a drug user. He was living in a home with his girlfriend and had access because she was the baby sitter.”

Before giving a “full confession” to police, Verzosa made a “disturbing” phone call to the children’s father, Whitworth said. In the phone call, she said Verzosa yelled, claimed he didn’t commit the crimes and was “calling out” the father.

Whitworth said the $1 million bail was appropriate for Verzosa, “who is a convicted child molester, who continued to molest children, who put himself in a position where he could have daily and nightly contact with these children.”

She said Verzosa also is a methamphetamine user who had done poorly on probation.

Judge Peter Cahill kept bail at $1 million for Verzosa.

Cahill noted that Verzosa could face revocation of his probation on the robbery charge.

He had been among three people arrested after a Lahaina man reported being handcuffed and forced into a car in West Maui, then driven through Kahakuloa to Kahului, where he was beaten Nov. 9, 2006.

The victim was released after promising to pay $100,000 to Ronald Bonilla Sr., who was identified as having assaulted the victim along with Verzosa. A police investigation showed that Lahaina resident Aniano Yabo had offered to pay $3,350 to Bonilla and Verzosa if they would beat and kill the victim because he was involved with Yabo’s wife.

A July 7 trial is set for Verzosa in the sexual assault case. He has pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of attempted first-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault.

Verzosa is being held at the Maui Community Correctional Center.