18-month jail term meted for sex assault

WAILUKU — A man was sentenced to an 18-month jail term after being convicted of raping a woman while she was visiting Maui last year.

Jeno Sandoval, 37, of Lahaina also was placed on five years’ probation.

Sandoval had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree sexual assault.

At his sentencing Friday, Sandoval said what happened between him and the woman in her Lahaina hotel room was consensual.

“She wanted to have a good time,” he said. “She was going back to the Mainland that day.”

The sexual assault occurred May 8, 2017, at a condominium that has been in the woman’s family for years, said Deputy Prosecutor Kirstin Coccaro. She said the woman was at the condominium for the first time since her father died.

“She does not believe she will ever be able to be in that condo again,” Coccaro said.

She said the woman couldn’t travel to Maui for the sentencing and described being depressed and having trouble leaving home.

“She fears social situations,” Coccaro said. “She’s having a hard time trusting people.”

She said the woman is religious and was wearing a cross when she met Sandoval, who commented on the cross and said he also was religious. “That’s a problem for her now,” Coccaro said. “She can’t wear that cross any longer. She carries it in her pocket. She fears someone will take advantage of even the things most sacred to her.”

The woman also has been battling health problems and ended a long-term relationship after being raped, Coccaro said.

She said the victim was aware of a plea agreement calling for the jail term and probation for Sandoval.

“She just wants him to get help and just learn that this is not OK,” Coccaro said. “It has affected her tremendously.”

Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen had agreed to follow the plea agreement, which also requires Sandoval to participate in sex offender treatment.

While Sandoval said he had told the truth, Bissen noted that the defendant’s account to police was inconsistent.

“You go from one story to the next,” Bissen told Sandoval. “You’re still lying.”

The judge said Sandoval wasn’t required to admit wrongdoing.

“You don’t have to be truthful,” Bissen said. “You can choose to be defiant as you are and as you have been, but then you will face very quickly the result of that.

“Just like you chose to rape this young lady in her hotel room. You make the choice and you live with that.”

Sandoval was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to have no contact with the victim.

He is required to register as a sex offender for life.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.