Former guard in sex assault case to get new attorney

Former Maui Community Correctional Center guard James Siugpiyemal appears in 2nd Circuit Court on Thursday on sexual assault charges against a female inmate. His attorney did not know why he was wearing a dust mask. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Maui News

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza approved the Office of the Public Defender’s request Thursday to withdraw as counsel for a former Maui corrections officer charged with sexual assault against a female inmate.

James Siugpiyemal, 43, appeared in court shackled, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and a dust mask. After nearly two years evading capture, law enforcement officers located and arrested him Sept. 20 in Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. He waived his right to fight extradition.

After he was arraigned Monday, he remained in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail. A bail hearing scheduled for Thursday was postponed until Tuesday morning to give Siugpiyemal time to find another attorney.

Deputy Public Defender Wendy Hudson said her office couldn’t represent Siugpiyemal because it already serves as counsel for the alleged victim, Christina Riley of Kihei, in another case.

Riley, who has given permission for her name to be used publicly, remains incarcerated  at the Federal Detention Center on Oahu because she has faced retaliation while jailed at state facilities, a family member said.

Hudson said she didn’t know why Siugpiyemal was wearing a dust mask.

Siugpiyemal allegedly forced Riley to engage in sexual intercourse while she was on work furlough and incarcerated from about July 31 to Aug. 11, 2014, at the Maui Community Correctional Center in Wailuku. She used a small video camera in her car to record a July 2014 sexual assault.

Her work furlough was revoked the day after she told Siugpiyemal she was going to report what happened.

After an investigation began into Riley’s allegations, Siugpiyemal left Maui for Guam on Oct. 9, 2014, and flew to Yap two days later, the U.S. Marshals Service reported. The former guard was indicted Oct. 24, 2014, on three charges of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault of the inmate.

Siugpiyemal was held in Yap until U.S. marshals could fly there to escort him back to the United States.