WAILUKU - A 2nd Circuit Court judge sentenced a Kahului man to one year in jail for having sexual contact with a 10-year-old girl last year.
Eric John Wilson, 42, was ordered last week by Judge Richard Bissen to undergo sex offender treatment and to have no contact with the victim or her family. He also was placed on five years' probation.
He pleaded no contest to third-degree sexual assault May 5. A second third-degree sexual assault charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
The incident occurred March 19, 2013, while the victim was swimming at Kaanapali Beach.
The family from Idaho was making its annual vacation trip to Maui, First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera said.
"Her life is not the same and neither is her family's," Rivera said. "The mother tells me she's responding well to therapy and seeing a counselor, but that still doesn't make her nights any less sleepless."
The girl, who is now 11, wrote a letter to the court and asked that it be read during the July 16 hearing, which Rivera did. She said each time she began to write, "it made her go back to the day when the defendant molested her at the beach."
"I really wanted him to be caught, because I knew he would do it to more little girls," he read. "I wanted to be the last person he ever did that to. I think his sentence should be long. He does not get to do that to people."
Rivera said that it was one of the most well-written and courageous letters a child has written to the court. He also applauded the girl for reporting the incident to her mother later that day, which is difficult for children suffering from such a traumatic experience.
"The only thing that can be said about this defendant is that he confessed to this, but that doesn't make him any less dangerous," Rivera said. "Maybe what it will do is show that his chances at rehabilitation are in a more positive place."
Deputy Public Defender Zach Raidmae said the circumstances of the case are "strange, bizarre and very troubling" due to Wilson having no criminal record or run-ins with the law.
"It's clear that this man hurt this child, and he confessed to it," Raidmae said. "Eric has his own path of accepting who he is and now has to identify with himself a different way."
Wilson apologized to the girl and her family, but offered an explanation for his actions, which he said he has never told anyone before.
"I was sexually molested as a young boy three times," he said in tears. "I was molested again by a priest, and I never talked about it. I didn't want to tell anyone, and I've lived a long time trying to be a good person."
Judge Bissen said Wilson has caused "devastation" to the girl and her family, as well as his own. After reading letters from Wilson's family and previous employers, Bissen said they called Wilson a diligent worker and is capable of completing sex offender treatment.
He noted, however, that Wilson has had different explanations for his actions to police and probation officers.
"This would be the third version of what happened," Bissen said.
Wilson was "almost too honest" when he confessed to police after initially being arrested for the sexual assault last year, Bissen said. He said Wilson later retracted his statements and told probation officers that it was an accident and that it was a "mild grab." Wilson claimed he was trying to help the girl on to her boogie board.
While being interviewed by police, Wilson curiously added that he has inappropriately touched girls two or three other times before and that he wanted to make an instructional video on how to pleasure women, Bissen said.
Bissen said of Wilson's remarks about being a victim of sexual assaults: "You more than anyone else would know how painful it is to be molested."
Wilson said he believes his actions were a plea for help and that he has been "suffering" in prison for the past six months. He said that he is ready for sex offender treatment.
"I want to be as pure as I possibly can," he said. "I will never touch somebody inappropriately again, as long as I'm on this earth."
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.