WAILUKU - While praised for his work as a police officer, former Maui police Sgt. Paul Bailey was punished Wednesday with a one-year jail term for sexually molesting a teenage girl last year.
"I think you do have an excellent reputation as a police officer," 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen told Bailey, 46, of Kahului. "There's no reason to dispute a single word or phrase from everyone who has written on your behalf. I also believe every word (the victim) says about you is true, and that's the contradiction."
Originally charged with four counts of third-degree sexual assault of the girl, who is a relative, Bailey had pleaded no contest to two amended counts of second-degree assault.
Former Maui police Sgt. Paul Bailey (left) stands with his attorney, Ben Summit, at Bailey’s sentencing hearing Wednesday morning in 2nd Circuit Court.
The girl reported the sexual assaults occurred May 21, 2012, when she had been celebrating her 16th birthday.
Bailey was driving her home when he pulled over on the side of the road in a secluded area with no streetlights near Maliko Gulch and "began groping her," said First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera. He said the girl also described how Bailey forced her to sexually touch him.
Bailey asked for a chance to keep the convictions off his record. His attorney, Ben Summit, read from letters written by family members and four Maui police officers describing Bailey as kind and generous, respected and qualified.
"The stories within those letters and the words of praise for Mr. Bailey's character represent the true Paul Bailey," Summit said.
He said Bailey served four years in the Marine Corps before being honorably discharged and had worked for 18 years as a Maui police patrol officer, sergeant and detective. "He put his life in danger every day to protect the community of Maui," Summit said.
He asked for no jail for Bailey, saying he had already been punished by the loss of the relationship with his family after he was indicted on the charges.
Summit said Bailey believed the girl's allegations resulted from a dispute between him and the girl's mother.
According to Bailey, the girl asked him to pull over on the side of the road because she wanted to discuss politics with him. They were talking and Bailey was rubbing her back when the girl said Bailey was touching her breast, and "he immediately takes his hand away," Summit said.
Rivera said that the girl, in testimony before a Maui County grand jury that indicted Bailey, said she hadn't asked Bailey to pull over and "thought it was kind of creepy."
When Bailey sexually molested her, "she was so confused, she couldn't speak," Rivera said.
In a letter to the court, the girl didn't want to recommend a sentence for Bailey, Rivera said. He read a portion of her letter saying "I would appreciate not contributing to the decision so I cannot feel guilt about what happens to him later on."
"She's not the first victim to come to an adult's rescue," Rivera said.
He opposed giving Bailey a chance to keep the conviction off his record and also recommended the one-year jail term.
Bailey already had been given a second chance through the plea agreement allowing him to enter pleas to felony assault charges instead of sexual offenses and sparing him from having to register as a sex offender, Rivera said.
"This is a deal that the victim and her family endorsed and wanted," Rivera said after the sentencing. "Had it not been for them, the defendant would not have gotten this deal."
Speaking in court, Bailey said he was "taking responsibility for the pain and suffering my actions may have caused my family and loved ones."
"Respect to the family is one of the most important things to me," he said. "What happened was an accident. I should have known better than to put myself in the situation. For that, I am truly sorry.
"I take responsibility for what happened that night, even for false accusations. I take responsibility for my poor judgment, and I want to make sure my family is not hurt because of the situation. Nothing like this will ever happen again."
Bailey said he had lost his police job and was about to go through bankruptcy and lose his house.
"I have gone from being a respected officer in the police department to driving a trash truck," he said. "I'm not complaining, but the difference is a huge effect on me. I feel I have already been punished."
In addition to working two jobs, Bailey said he was taking care of his wife, who is disabled. "Sentencing me to jail would be dangerous for me personally and would not accomplish anything," he said.
In denying Bailey's requests for no jail and a chance to keep the convictions off his record, Bissen said it was difficult to consider the requests when Bailey hadn't accepted responsibility for what he did to the girl.
"Instead of coming clean to vindicate her so she was not living with this guilt, you will go down swinging," Bissen told Bailey. "You will stick to this explanation that she somehow made this up at the spur of the moment."
He said police reports indicated Bailey was still in the driveway of the girl's home when she told her mother what had happened and she and the girls' grandparents confronted Bailey. He begged them not to call police and didn't tell his wife about the incident until he was questioned by detectives, Bissen noted.
"Those aren't the actions of somebody who just committed an accident," the judge said. "There's not a question in my mind that not only was this not an accident, but it happened exactly the way (the victim) reported it.
"This is a straightforward case," Bissen said. "The only difference is where you worked. Everything else is exactly the same as anyone else. I am sorry for whatever's going to come down as a result of this. But let there be no mistake, this was your choice. And now you have the consequences."
Bailey also was placed on five years' probation. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim and to participate in sex offender treatment. Bailey also was ordered to have no contact with minor children and not live in the same residence as minors.