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Saturday, July 19, 2003



Teacher jailed
in child porn case

A plea agreement results
in a 46-month sentence and
a fine for image possession


A Waiau Elementary School teacher and kumu hula was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 for possessing child pornography on his laptop computer.

Under an agreement with federal prosecutors, Keith Kalani Akana, 45, of Pearl City, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of possessing images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors did not pursue charges for distributing pornographic materials, a more serious offense punishable by 10 years' imprisonment, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Tong.

Under sentencing guidelines, Akana faced a maximum of 57 months of imprisonment and maximum fine of $100,000.

Akana apologized in court before U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway.

"It was a very fair sentence," said his attorney, Michael Ostendorp. "The judge took into consideration his community service in the past and an extensive evaluation, including a lie detector test."

He said the judge also considered the "half-inch stack of letters written by people who wrote in support of him."

Tong said the sentence was "appropriate under the applicable guidelines" and was a "serious sentence for a serious offense."

A search of Akana's computer hard drive revealed 400 images depicting minor children involved in sexual conduct.

Authorities also retrieved three e-mails Akana sent to 13 other individuals that referred to trading the images.

Akana's work computers were searched, but no evidence was found that he had accessed any child pornography while at the school, said Tong.

And, Ostendorp said, a lie detector test that Akana took showed that he never touched any child inappropriately and only viewed the pornography.

Authorities were led to Akana when they found his name on the e-mail "buddy list" of a Milwaukee man investigated for child pornography.

Ostendorp said Akana will surrender to a federal detention center on the mainland Sept. 3 to give the facility adequate time to prepare for his health conditions, which the attorney would not specify.

Akana had been a teacher at Waiau Elementary School since 1987. He began teaching in the school's Hawaiian language immersion program in 1989, and served as interim vice principal in the 2000-2001 school year.

Akana was also director of the hula halau Ka Pa Hula O Ka Lani.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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