WAILUKU - Saying a defendant's methamphetamine use wasn't an excuse, a judge Wednesday ordered a 10-year prison term for a Kahului man who repeatedly sexually assaulted a girl.
When the sexual assaults began three years ago, Samuel A. Pascua, 47, had been taking care of the 10-year-old girl after her mother was incarcerated.
"Of all people, you should have been her protector, her caretaker," 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo told Pascua. "What you turned out to be was a sexual predator and attacker. You violated her body. You violated her trust in a manner that cannot go unpunished."
Pascua had pleaded no contest to three reduced counts of second-degree sexual assault and 15 counts of third-degree sexual assault of the girl from September 2010 to November 2011.
Deputy Public Defender William "Pili" McGrath said it was hard to understand the crime, which occurred after the girl's mother went to jail for methamphetamine charges.
"The only way to understand it is Mr. Pascua has been using methamphetamine for 15 years," McGrath said. "If there's ever a case that demonstrated the deleterious effects of this drug, this is it."
When people abuse the drug, "their sense of human compassion is essentially on hold or eliminated," McGrath said.
"People on methamphetamine basically do what they want to do without much regard for consequences," he said.
While not condoning Pascua's behavior, a half-dozen family members showed up in the courtroom Wednesday to support Pascua, McGrath said.
Pascua asked to be sentenced to an 18-month jail term and four years' probation.
But the girl's foster parent, speaking as an advocate for the girl, said a longer prison term was appropriate.
Pascua wasn't under the influence of drugs or alcohol during all of the instances of sexual abuse, the foster parent said. "The abuse seems to have been deliberate and intentional," he said.
He said the girl has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and suffers from nightmares.
She is succeeding in school, he said. But both she and her younger sister, who witnessed some of the sexual assaults, are continuing in therapy, he said.
"Anything less than the maximum sentence would minimize the severity of Mr. Pascua's actions," the foster parent said.
First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera, arguing for the 10-year prison term, said the girl could start to have closure with Pascua's sentencing.
"I don't think everyone understands how courageous a young child has to be to disclose her victimization," Rivera said.
"This is not a case about drugs. This is not a case about crystal methamphetamine," he said. "What is clear is this defendant has a paraphilia, which makes him a child predator, which made him a pedophile, which made him the most dangerous person to (the victim)."
Rivera said the girl didn't want to see Pascua go to prison, leading to the plea agreement that reduced some of the charges.
"He should be thankful that the person he offended has come to his rescue," Rivera said.
He said a probation officer's report listed 20 factors supporting incarceration for Pascua and "absolutely no factors" for withholding jail.
Judge Loo said she doubted that Pascua was under the influence of methamphetamine during all 18 offenses of sexual assault.
"Do not try to hide behind the cloak of methamphetamine use," she told Pascua."You are a wrecking ball. You create havoc in your wake. You destroy everything in your path."
She said the girl "was saved because she had the common sense to ask for help from friends, from family."
"This deed cannot go unpunished," Loo said. "It's too horrific to go unpunished."
Rivera said the prosecution would ask the parole board to require Pascua to serve the majority of his prison sentence.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@ mauinews.com.