Saturday, June 7, 2003

Valley Isle
warden facing
sex charges

Albert Murashige is indicted for
allegedly assaulting an inmate

A grand jury indicted Maui Community Correctional Center Warden Albert Murashige yesterday on charges of sexually assaulting a female inmate on five occasions between May 1 and last Wednesday.

Authorities said the last assault allegedly occurred after the state Department of the Attorney General had begun an investigation.

The Maui grand jury indictment charges Murashige with 10 counts of sexual assault, two counts of attempted sexual assault and one count of kidnapping.

The inmate, a 44-year-old former high school teacher, is serving time for numerous felony drug convictions. She was on a work furlough program at the time, said James Propotnick, state Department of Public Safety interim director.

But Attorney General Mark Bennett said all of the alleged offenses occurred at MCCC.

The allegations were brought to the attention of authorities by state Rep. Kika Bukoski, who received a letter from the inmate through a prison guard last week, then turned it over to the attorney general.

"Knowing him (Murashige) as a friend, it made it a little difficult to do what I did," said Bukoski (R, Pukalani-Ulupalakua).

Bennett said he immediately began an investigation.

Murashige was arrested after investigators corroborated the accusations, Bennett said. He declined to detail how investigators corroborated the accusations.

Murashige was arrested Wednesday and released yesterday after posting $100,000 bond. He was on suicide watch while in custody at the Maui Police Department cellblock, Propotnick said.

David Sereno, Murashige's attorney, said Murashige appeared to be in good spirits when he was released.

"He's just happy to be out and happy to be able to spend time with his family," Sereno said. When he first saw his client Thursday at the Maui Police Department cellblock, Sereno said Murashige was upset but composed.

Murashige, 46, was placed on 30 days' administrative leave without pay Wednesday. He has been employed by the Department of Public Safety since 1980 and has been warden of MCCC since 1991.

According to the indictment, the alleged offenses occurred on May 1, 4, 8, 13 and last Wednesday. The charges include first-, second- and third-degree sexual assault. The kidnapping charge stems from the allegation that Murashige held the victim against her will on May 1.

It is a felony for a correctional employee to have sexual contact with an inmate, even if it is consensual. However, Murashige is charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault for allegedly using force. Sexual assault in the first degree is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

"This came as a complete surprise, right out of the blue," Propotnick said. "He's well respected by his employees and by the community on Maui in general."

Maui community leaders also expressed shock over the allegations.

"I was floored when I heard about it," said Alice Lee, director of county Housing and Human Concerns and former Maui County councilwoman, who described Murashige as a "strong partner" in developing rehabilitation programs for inmates on Maui, including the Maui Drug Court program.

Bukoski said, "I think anybody who knew Albert Murashige and his service at MCCC, they would be shocked."

One prison guard said he was embarrassed and wore a T-shirt rather than his blue correctional uniform shirt into a food mart yesterday morning.


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