Lahaina man who molested girl, 9, gets 10 years in prison


WAILUKU — A Lahaina man was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl, who was praised for speaking out about what happened.

Edwin Ayudan, 56, was supposed to have been helping take care of the girl at his residence when the sexual assaults occurred, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo noted while sentencing the defendant Wednesday.

“You are basically a sexual predator,” she told Ayudan. “A 9-year-old is no match for a 50-something-year-old.”

Originally charged with continuous sexual assault of a minor under age 14, Ayudan had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree sexual assault. The sexual assaults occurred from November 2017 and continued until November 2018, according to the indictment returned against Ayudan.

The girl was a 4th-grader when Ayudan began sexually assaulting her, with the sexual acts continuing almost every time she spent time with a relative at Ayudan’s residence, said Deputy Prosecutor Karen Droscoski.

She said the girl would tell Ayudan to stop.

“The defendant told her not to tell anyone what he was doing and said it was a secret,” Droscoski said.

“He made a mistake most pedophiles make, thinking that children wouldn’t tell,” she said. “His biggest mistake was thinking no one would believe her. He was wrong.”

The girl told family members what was happening after they noticed a change in her behavior and she complained about pain.

“Her bravery is an inspiration to other child victims of sexual assaults,” Droscoski said.

“Although 10 years will not reverse the damage this man has done to this little girl, it will give her a sense of justice,” she said in asking that Ayudan be sentenced to the prison term. “And it will send the message that child sexual assault will not be tolerated.”

The girl’s family members and others also asked for the maximum sentence for Ayudan.

“I hope the defendant in this case sits in jail for a long time and reflects on the damage that he alone is responsible for,” said police Lt. Audra Sellers, who investigated the case as a detective in Lahaina.

Addressing Ayudan, she said, “I ask that you be the adult, stop denying your actions and stop victim-blaming.”

Sellers thanked the girl for telling what happened.

“At 10 years old, she had incredible strength and courage,” Sellers said. “She put a voice to her pain and asked for help. She never gave up through the long process that brought us here today . . . “

Sellers said the girl’s “willingness to stand up against all odds and to still speak her truth reminds me why I’m an officer.”

The girl’s stepfather said he at first didn’t want to believe what happened to the girl.

“Nobody ever wants to believe that something like this could happen to the one that they’re caring for,” he said in court.

“Now I have to deal with my daughter having trust issues with every male individual in her life, including me,” he said. “She told me the other night she cannot stop thinking about what happened to her. I don’t know, as a parent, what to say to help her feel better about this situation. All I know is she is loved by me and she is supported by me and she will forever be.”

Addressing Ayudan in court, the girl’s mother said, “I lost her because you took her. The innocence of my child is no longer there because you violated her.”

Ayudan asked to be considered for probation, with a jail term of up to 18 months.

Defense attorney Cary Virtue said Ayudan would have to participate in a lengthy sex offender treatment program.

“There is hope that he can make changes that are necessary and improve,” Virtue said.

Turning to the girl’s family members in the courtroom gallery, Ayudan said, “I’d like to apologize to everyone who’s going through this situation. I do know how you feel.

“I apologize to my family as well,” he said. “I’m sorry for everything that’s going on.”

Judge Loo said letters from family members and co-workers described Ayudan as a good husband, father and role model, as well as a recovering alcoholic who has reached out to try to help others.

“There’s a lot of truth to the saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover,’ ” she said. “When you open the pages, the pages tell a different story and sometimes a different twist to the tale.”

Referring to what Ayudan did to the girl, Loo said, “It’s not a pretty picture. This is not the kind of story you want to weave.”

“Anybody that takes advantage of a 9-year-old in the manner you have taken advantage of her, you have closed the pages of this particular book,” she said. “End of story. I’m putting you back on the shelf, closing this book.”

Ayudan was ordered to pay $130 in restitution.

After posting a $100,000 bail bond to be released following his arrest, he was taken into custody after he was sentenced Wednesday.

He is required to register as a sex offender for life.

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


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