Wailuku man ordered to sex offender treatment, probation for assault of girl

Girl says defendant touched her while she was at his home

WAILUKU — A Wailuku man was ordered to participate in sex offender treatment as part of his sentence for assaulting a girl who was 5 years old when she reported she had been sexually molested.

Eli Ku Jr., 53, was placed on four years’ probation Friday and was given credit for 32 days he previously spent in jail.

“What you did was very inappropriate, very wrong,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo told Ku. “You need to deal with this for the rest of your life, that you caused this trauma to this little girl.”

Originally charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault, Ku had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree assault.

On Aug. 24, 2015, the girl disclosed to her mother and father that Ku had sexually touched her while she was at his residence visiting relatives, said Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee.

She said the child had been left alone with Ku at least three times.

After the girl’s mother called police, the girl told the same story to a police detective, a doctor who examined her and a grand jury that indicted Ku, Bernard Lee said.

“She told them that they were alone on his bed,” Bernard Lee said. “She said he did this more than one time and that it hurt her feelings.

“Here we are about three years later. The child is still traumatized and the family is still hurt.”

A plea agreement between the defense and prosecution recommended probation for Ku.

Defense attorney Richard Gronna said Ku accepted the plea deal because he didn’t want the girl and her family “to have to go through the rigors of a trial.”

Ku has no prior criminal history and works as a bus driver to provide the main financial support for his family, Gronna said.

“He has been around children as a bus driver for more than 10 years and has never had a complaint,” Gronna said.

He said a commendation from Ku’s employer described him as “generous and helpful.”

Gronna also referred to letters from Ku’s employer and others “who have attested to his overall goodwill and moral character.”

“There is some question remaining as to if in fact some of these allegations may or may not have taken place,” Gronna said.

Judge Loo said that for a 5-year-old “to make up a story of this caliber, I think it would be very difficult to keep the facts straight.”

“It sounded like she said the same version to the police, to the doctor and to the grand jury,” Loo said.

Speaking in court Friday, the girl’s mother said she hadn’t known that Ku was watching the girl while the child’s father had been called in to work.

The mother said she “can never forget” how her daughter told her what happened.

“She said, ‘Mom, I can’t take this anymore,’ “ she said. “She then told me everything, how you made her kiss you . . . You made her lie on top of you without your shirt on.”

“She knows what you did,” the mother said to Ku. “You know what you did. I know what you did. And God knows what you did. There’s no possible way a 5-year-old could make this up.”

The mother called Ku “the devil in disguise.”

“What you did to her scarred her for life,” the mother said. “But she is a smart, beautiful, intelligent girl who will thrive in life.”

Judge Loo said that while she believed the girl would do well, it didn’t excuse what Ku did.

“You were supposed to care for her, protect her from people like you,” Loo told Ku. “You did not do that. You crossed the line in your behavior with this little girl. And that is totally unacceptable, totally inappropriate.”

“Agree,” Ku said.

The judge said she had considered sentencing Ku to additional jail time, but followed the plea agreement after questioning the girl’s mother, who said she was OK with the plea deal.

Ku was ordered to pay a $500 fine and to perform 200 hours of community service.

He was ordered to have no contact with the girl or anyone related to her unless he has authorization from his probation officer.

He also was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.

Ku was ordered not to contact any minor child and not to live in the same residence as minor children unless he has permission from his probation officer. He was ordered to write a letter apologizing to the girl and to her family, with the letter to be delivered to his probation officer.

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