Family Court to hear girl's rape case
The five suspects' status as juveniles affords them special legal protection
THE FIVE BOYS who are accused of attacking an 11-year-old girl in a city park will enter a secretive Family Court system designed to protect the privacy of juveniles.
A police officer told reporters Sunday that the boys, ages 11 to 15, had each been charged with two counts of first-degree sex assault, four counts of third-degree sex assault and two counts of kidnapping. However, police said yesterday that information was incorrect, and instead the case had been forwarded to prosecutors who must petition the Family Court to file formal charges.
The girl reported being attacked last Tuesday night in Beretania Community Park on Aala Street. The five boys were arrested Saturday.
Because the case involves juveniles, police refused to give specifics of the alleged attack. However, one source familiar with the investigation said that earlier reports of a gang rape were exaggerated and that the incident involves one suspect who allegedly raped the victim, another who allegedly molested her, while all the boys face potential kidnapping charges for allegedly holding her against her will.
City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle could not talk specifically about the case because of privacy rules regarding juveniles, and he noted that proceedings will likely be shrouded in the confidentiality of Family Court.
"This is an appalling case, and it will be handled in a system that's cloaked in privacy so the public won't get to know the who, how and why this thing happened," he said.
Only the 15-year-old boy meets the criteria to possibly be tried as an adult, he said.
According to those who work in the Family Court system, a juvenile who is charged with a crime undergoes confidential court proceedings. Upon arrest, juveniles are brought to a pretrial detention facility on Alder Street run by the state Judiciary, where a detention hearing is scheduled usually within 24 hours, except on weekends.
By then, prosecutors should have filed a petition -- the Family Court version of a criminal complaint. At a detention hearing, the judge reviews a variety of criteria to determine whether the minor needs to be held at the detention facility or released to parents, a foster home or mental health facility.
Prosecutors, a public defender or private attorney representing the juvenile, the minor's parents and a juvenile court officer assigned to the case are typically present at these hearings.
The judge considers, among other factors, the severity and frequency of the violations, the minor's age, character, and physical and mental health.
About the same time or shortly after the petition is filed by prosecutors, the Prosecutor's Office will decide whether to seek to have the juvenile waived to adult court. The judge will make a determination whether to waive the juvenile to adult court before scheduling a trial -- referred to in Family Court as the adjudicatory hearing.
Juveniles are entitled to a waiver hearing before Family Court, any mental health assessments and a waiver study -- a report prepared by a juvenile court officer that addresses the criteria the judge needs to consider in making the determination whether to waive a minor to adult court, said Big Island Family Court Judge Ben Gaddis.
Under the waiver statute, different criteria apply depending on the age of the child and the seriousness of the offense. If the court waives a juvenile to adult court, he or she is then treated just like an adult charged with a crime and faces a public trial.