Man sentenced to 10-year term for sexually assaulting teen who was babysitting his children

WAILUKU — A Wailuku man was sentenced to a 10-year prison term Tuesday for sexually assaulting a girl who was watching his children.

Theo Pedro, 35, had been out drinking before returning home and sexually assaulting the girl in multiple ways on June 24, 2018, said Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Coccaro.

“He was drunk, hurt, angry at his girlfriend and saw an opportunity to take advantage of a young naive girl, a very vulnerable 17-year-old girl who was babysitting his own children,” Coccaro said. “This poor young woman went running from the house when he stopped because his girlfriend showed up.

“She was found hysterical” and “curled up in a ball” in a vehicle when police arrived, Coccaro said.

Pedro had pleaded no contest to four reduced counts of second-degree sexual assault of the girl, who is a relative.

In letters to the court, he said the girl consented to the sexual acts.

Coccaro said the victim had been consistent in saying what happened that night.

Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said the reason to conclude the victim was telling the truth was that Pedro’s girlfriend was the first witness who heard the screams of the girl who had been watching Pedro’s six children.

“As if that wasn’t enough of a favor for her to do for you and your girlfriend so you could go out drinking, you decide you should rape her,” Bissen told Pedro.

“She’s a 17-year-old immigrant, barely speaks any English,” Bissen said.

He said police described Pedro as intoxicated and slurring.

“I don’t know what you recall, but by now, you’ve convinced yourself you did nothing wrong,” Bissen told Pedro. “You treated this young lady as if she was property or she was worthless.

“The court does not believe you deserve probation.”

While arguing for the 10-year prison term, Coccaro said she worried about the victim, who had come to Maui to go to school and “make a better life for herself.”

“She is demure,” Coccaro said. “She is desperately shy. She is self-conscious. She will barely look up at you when you walk in a room. She comes across much younger than she is.”

After what happened, relatives said “she had given up on everything she came here to do” and was homeless, Coccaro said.

The victim had been afraid to tell her parents about what happened, Coccaro said.

Between Pedro’s change of plea and sentencing, “things changed drastically for her,” Coccaro said.

She said the girl’s parents learned what happened and both sides of the family began pressuring the victim. “They blamed her for what happened,” Coccaro said. “They basically told her it was all her fault.”

The aunt and uncle who had taken in the girl begged Coccaro not to go forward with the case, saying that if the girl wasn’t seen as responsible for Pedro serving a prison term, “maybe they could save her,” Coccaro said.

She said she couldn’t go along “with this family’s culture of victim blaming.”

“This was a heinous crime,” Coccaro said. “He needs to be punished for his complete disregard of another human being.”

Sentencing for Pedro, who had a Marshallese interpreter, had been delayed after he asked for a new attorney and asked to withdraw his no-contest plea. At a hearing last week, Judge Bissen denied the request.

He said the prosecution should consider felony charges against anyone who retaliates against the victim.

“If there’s any more retaliation against this witness, that is a Class C felony that carries a five-year prison sentence,” Bissen said. “If that happens, I hope that case comes right back to my courtroom. This girl has been through enough.”

As part of his sentence, Pedro is required to register as a sex offender for life. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim.

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