WAILUKU - It was only after their mother reported what happened to police - and they were away from the defendant - that two children told authorities they had been repeatedly sexually assaulted over a five-year period, a deputy prosecutor said.
"Only then did they feel safe to tell about their horrific abuse," Deputy Prosecutor Simone Polak said during opening statements Wednesday morning in the 2nd Circuit Court trial of William Barrios.
Defense attorney Jon Apo said that except for the testimony of the children and possibly their mother, jurors would hear "absolutely zero evidence" of the 180 charges against Barrios.
"Don't expect any CSI here. Don't expect any rape kits. Don't expect eyewitnesses," Apo said. "At the end of this trial, you will see how convicting Mr. Barrios of even a single count of these overzealous charges simply turns the American justice system upside down."
Barrios, 46, of Wailuku has pleaded not guilty to the charges of first-degree sexual assault, attempted first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and third-degree sexual assault of the children from August 2004 to December 2009. Both were under age 14 at the time.
Barrios was a "religious disciplinarian" who was hated by the children and their mother, who was desperate and living in a crystal methamphetamine "haze" when she reported the alleged sexual abuse, Apo said.
Polak said Barrios had told one child that "what happens in this house stays in this house" and took advantage of the unexpected death of the children's father in 2004. "That left open the door for the defendant to get aggressive in his sexual abuse," Polak said.
The abuse, occurring at residences in Wailuku and Pukalani, included sexual touching and forcing the children into sexual acts, with Barrios at times forcing the children's mother to watch or participate, Polak said.
She said Barrios told the mother that "if I go down, so will you" and "if anybody tells, I'll kill all of you."
Barrios also provided drugs that he used with the children's mother, with both of them at times staying awake for six or seven days on crystal methamphetamine, Polak said.
She said the children's mother was convicted of hindering prosecution and endangering the welfare of the children for not immediately reporting the sexual assaults. The mother agreed to testify truthfully against Barrios, Polak said.
Because of the time that passed before the sexual assaults were reported, no DNA evidence could be obtained, Polak said.
Police officer Craig Stephens, who was flagged down by the mother as he was leaving the Makawao police substation the afternoon of March 26, 2010, said that "as she started to explain what was going on, she got very emotional."
"She broke down several times," Stephens said.
Testifying Wednesday afternoon, one of the children, a boy, described being forced by Barrios into sexual acts in his bedroom and in his mother's bedroom, as well as in Barrios' black Dodge truck. The boy said he was pushed down and punched in the stomach by Barrios.
In one incident when he and Barrios were staying overnight at the beach in Spreckelsville, the boy said he tried to get up to get away and Barrios pushed the boy back down, causing him to hit his head on the cab of the truck.
The boy, who was in the 4th grade when that happened in 2008, said he thought that if he tried to run away, "he would chase me . . . he probably would hurt me."
The boy also described going to Barrios' house in Wailuku in 2009 so the youth could play with his Xbox. He was sleeping when he was awakened by Barrios, who threw the boy off the bed so he landed about 8 feet away on the floor near the closet, the boy testified.
"I tried to get up," he said. "He pushed me back down."
The boy said he was punched in the stomach by Barrios, losing his breath.
While forcing the boy into a sexual act, Barrios told him: "You local boys like this," the boy said.
The trial, which began with jury selection Monday, is continuing today. Judge Rhonda Loo is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last two to four weeks.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.