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Man gets house arrest for sexual assault of woman who sought blessing

He will still be allowed to conduct blessings, with restrictions

WAILUKU — A Kahului man was sentenced to six months of house arrest for sexually assaulting a woman who had gone to him for a “spiritual blessing.”

Anthony Mina, 70, was ordered not to massage or place his hands on anyone who isn’t a relative when doing blessings while he is on probation for five years.

In imposing the requirement while sentencing Mina on Wednesday, 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said “it’s not preventing him from conducting his spiritual healing or blessings.”

“I don’t think I’m preventing him from making his living, but I think that’s the only way I can warn the public,” Bissen said.

The judge followed a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution in sentencing Mina, who had pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault of the woman.

She was given Mina’s name by members of a hula halau because she was experiencing uncomfortable feelings about the end of a relationship, Deputy Prosecutor Karen Droscoski said.

“She sought the defendant’s services for help, but instead she was violated” and sexually assaulted, Droscoski said.

When the woman went to see Mina on Nov. 29, 2017, he took her into a small room in his house and had her lie on her stomach on a massage table, Droscoski said. She said the woman was wearing a tank top and leggings when he put his hands under her shirt, touching her back, shoulders, legs and buttocks.

After he told her to turn over, he started rubbing her stomach, then put his hands under her bra, Droscoski said. She said Mina touched the woman’s vaginal area on top of her clothing and said, “Do you want me to bless this part? If I don’t bless this part, you won’t be completely healed and might have the same problem.”

The victim said, “Please do.”

“But make no mistake — she did not know what he was going to do,” Droscoski said. “She did not think he was going to do what he did.”

Mina put his hands into the woman’s underwear to digitally penetrate her, Droscoski said. She said the victim began crying.

“She was scared,” Droscoski said. “She had no idea how healings worked, but she thought he was like a doctor so she trusted him.

“He also told her if this healing didn’t work, he may have to do more.”

Mina told police he had conducted blessings on many women for over 35 years, Droscoski said. When a detective asked if he had performed such blessings on men, “the defendant scoffed, looked at the detective like he was crazy” and shook his head no, Droscoski said.

Speaking in court, the victim said she had blamed herself for what happened. For a while, she said she was afraid of going to therapy.

“I tried to just forget about it and just live my life, but I couldn’t,” she said. “Every time I had to make decisions, I felt strong anxiety and fear.”

She said part of her decision to go to police and pursue prosecution was to help others.

“I don’t want any more people to go through what I have been through,” she said. “I truly wish for all of us to get all the help we need and completely heal from the trauma because we deserve it.”

Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal said Mina was part of a Pentecostal “mission of faith, hope and charity” and was trained to do private blessings in the mid-1970s in Nanakuli, Oahu, by a woman who has since died.

“He is strongly committed to his mission,” Lowenthal said. “He meant no harm to the victim.”

Lowenthal said Mina has no other felony conviction and is caretaker for his brother and other family members.

“He continues to do the blessings as part of his mission, as part of his faith, as part of the exercise of his religion,” Lowenthal said. “But it has changed. He always has another person present. He is clear about what he intends to do. That has been a lesson learned on his part.”

“To the young lady, I’m sorry,” Mina said. “I’m very sorry.”

When Judge Bissen asked if the woman who trained Mina taught him to put his fingers into a woman as part of his healing training, he said yes.

“Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t,” he said.

He said others were trained in the practice, but some have “passed on.”

“I’m one of the last ones,” he said.

Bissen said that “to call it a blessing, to say it’s spiritual, yet to put your hands on people — one doesn’t seem to fit the other.”

He said he had “never heard of anything like this.”

“I’m wondering why it’s not more well known if it’s so effective,” Bissen said. “It seems more like something somebody does when nobody is watching.”

Others who went to see Mina said that hadn’t been done to them, according to police reports.

While Mina said he “always” tells people what he does, Bissen said that didn’t happen in the woman’s case.

“But the biggest thing that’s happened today, because of the bravery of this young lady, is you will be exposed,” the judge told Mina. “If people think you’re a healer, if people think you’re a fraud … people get to choose, you don’t get to choose for people. You don’t get to choose what goes on with their bodies, they choose.”

While Mina is under house arrest with an ankle monitor, he can go to probation-related activities and medical appointments.

He was ordered to pay $11,453 in restitution and complete sex offender treatment.

Mina also has been required to register as a sex offender.

Speaking after the hearing, the victim, now 31 years old, said she was glad the judge told Mina he couldn’t place his hands on someone else.

She wanted others to know that help and therapy are available through the Maui Sexual Assault Center and the state Department of Health Crisis Line at (800) 753-6879.

She said she didn’t feel anger toward Mina.

“I want to believe that he has a good heart and that he didn’t mean to hurt me,” she said. “Now it’s up to him. At least I can tell myself I did everything I could.”

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

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