Ex-school advisor receives 30 days in child porn case


By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

The former chairman of Hilo Intermediate School’s School Community Council was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail and five years probation for possessing nude photos of a minor.

Circuit Judge Glenn Hara is allowing 58-year-old Ken Fukushima to serve his jail time on weekends, starting Friday. He also ordered Fukushima to serve 500 hours of community service, seek a psychosexual evaluation, enter a sex offender treatment program, refrain from possessing or purchasing pornography and remain away from schools, playgrounds and other places where minors congregate, and submit DNA samples to a law enforcement database.

Fukushima pleaded guilty in October to third-degree promotion of child abuse, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in jail.

Fukushima’s wife, Tinamarie, sobbed openly when the judge imposed the jail term on her husband.

Court documents filed by police indicate the investigation started when a then-16-year-old Kona girl told police in November 2010 that she was being pressured via a social media website’s instant messaging to send nude photos of herself to an unknown individual. A search warrant was executed on Fukushima’s home, computer files were seized, and nude photos of an underage girl were found. It turned out, however, the photos were of a different girl, not the complainant.

Fukushima’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Belinda Castillo Hall, asked the court not to impose a jail sentence, saying that Fukushima and his family have “suffered enough.”

“What was most hurtful in this case was the publicity, publicity that was wrong,” she said. “It’s too much for him to suffer wrong information that’s been out in the press. This case had nothing to do with a 16-year-old girl in Kona. When the complaint came down in September, he was not indicted by any grand jury. He waived his right to a grand jury and took responsibility for his actions. He is remorseful for what happened.”

Deputy Prosecutor Mike Kagami said what Fukushima did was “criminally wrong” and argued that a year in jail would be “proper punishment for this defendant and proper deterrence to others who want to do this.”

“This defendant submitted numerous letters attesting to his character — trusted in the community, he’s done good things for the community. This is a dangerous man because of that very thing,” he said. “It’s easy for a kid to shy away from a man who looks different. But when you have a man who looks like this, who’s trusted by other adults, and he thinks like that, that’s more dangerous than someone else.”

Tinamarie Fukushima asked the court not to send her husband to jail. She said she has severe health issues and he is her primary caregiver. She also stated that the family won’t be able to afford their children’s college educations and may lose their home if he were to be jailed “all because of a bunch of misinformation.”

“Because of this, I have lost the child-care provider business that I had, (but) I was recently able to secure other work,” she said. “… My husband has spent several years of his life to help our schools develop better. … Everything has been destructed; everything has been changed.”

Ken Fukushima also asked the court for leniency, stating: “The pain and suffering I have caused my family is beyond belief.”

“This was not done maliciously, maybe foolishly, but I take full responsibility for it. It will never happen again,” he said.

He also pointed to his work as the school’s community council chairman.

“When I started at Hilo Intermediate School, we were at the bottom of the list. Last year, we became a school in good standing, unconditionally,” Fukushima said. “… Nothing else happened at that school except the improvement. … These people trust me because I work hard. I failed in certain things and I will make up for it. I will do everything I can to rectify the situation and take responsibility for it.”

Upon passing sentence, Hara said Fukushima’s “abuse of authority and power … allowed these photographs to be taken.” He also noted Fukushima’s “unblemished prior record” and community involvement as “mitigating factors.”

“In my mind, the prosecution has already taken into account the mitigating factors that I’ve mentioned,” the judge said. “The facts relating to how these photographs were produced, I think you could have easily been charged with production of these photographs, … a Class A felony (punishable by) 20 years in prison. So I think, to a certain extent, some leniency has already been extended to you by the state.”

The judge also ordered Fukushima to register as a sex offender, but Hall argued that wasn’t required as a part of the plea agreement. After conferring with both the defense and prosecution, Hara set a hearing to decide the issue for Jan. 29 at 8:30 a.m.

Hilo Intermediate School Principal Esther Kanehailua said Tuesday that Fukushima submitted his resignation from the school’s community council at its last meeting.

“From the school’s standpoint, he’s been a tremendous help with a lot of the transitions here at the school and has been very professional in all of his dealings with everybody on staff,” she said. “… He’s helped transition a lot of principals into the school, because he’s been on the council for awhile. … He took us through some tumultuous times with the school uniforms.”

She said that no successor has been named as the panel’s chairman.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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