Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Isle man sorry for sex
assault on wife’s cousin

By Rosemarie Bernardo

A 39-year-old Kapolei man apologized in Circuit Court yesterday for sexually assaulting his wife's 13-year-old cousin who became pregnant with his child.

"I'm truly sorry that this matter came to this," said Victor Flores before Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto. "This will never happen again."

Sakamoto sentenced Flores to 20 years in prison for first-degree sexual assault. His wife, Celeste, 38, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for second-degree sexual assault and being an accomplice to sexual assault in the second degree.

The couple pleaded guilty to the charges in October.

Victor and Celeste Flores will go before the Hawaii Paroling Authority at a later date for minimum sentences. They are to start serving their prison terms June 9.

Police arrested the couple in February 2001 after the girl told school authorities that she was pregnant and that Celeste Flores knew about their sexual relationship.

According to court documents, the eighth-grader told detectives that Celeste was "involved in and sometimes observed and directed the sexual intercourse" between her and Victor.

Soon after the couple's arrest, the 13-year-old girl was placed under Child Protective Services. She gave birth to Victor's son in August 2001.

Celeste Flores was nine months pregnant at the time of her arrest and gave birth to a daughter in mid-February 2001.

Celeste Flores has allowed her niece to adopt the couple's daughter and three other children, said attorney William Harrison, who is representing Celeste.

The couple has "done everything possible to atone for the conduct of this charge," Harrison said.

"They are perfect candidates for reintegration to the community right away."

During the sentencing hearing, Sakamoto told Victor Flores that he had committed a terrible crime on a minor.

The judge noted that Flores had no previous criminal record and had done well in undergoing treatment for sex offenders.

"It's clear that you are remorseful," Sakamoto said.

Victor Flores underwent treatment at the Forensic and Behavioral Institute, while Celeste had received treatment through a sexual-abuse program under Catholic Charities.

Deputy Prosecutor Darrell Wong said after the sentencing that Victor Flores is doing well with treatment; however, "it doesn't excuse him for what he did."

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