Trial pits five girls against dance teacher
An Aiea dance instructor denies allegations of sex assault
A prosecutor said yesterday that former dance instructor Daniel Jones violated the innocence of five teenage girls when he sexually assaulted them.
But Jones's lawyer said the girls made up the stories because one of them wanted to get even with Jones for telling her mother of her suicide attempts. And another girl obsessed with him is retaliating because she felt betrayed after hearing of the allegations of the other girls.
Trial for Jones, 21, a former Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy instructor, got under way yesterday. He is charged with four counts of first-degree sexual assault and 14 counts of third-degree sexual assault involving five girls who were students at the Aiea dance studio. The trial continues today at Circuit Court.
The alleged sexual assaults occurred between July 2004 and June 2005, when the girls were 12 to 14 years old.
"The defendant, as a teacher at the school, was in a position of trust and authority over the children," said Thalia Murphy, deputy city prosecutor.
The girls also regarded Jones as a big brother. All of the families, including Jones' family, did things together socially. The girls' parents trusted him, and one family even considered him a son, allowing Jones to sleep over at their home regularly, Murphy said.
But that trust was broken in the summer of 2004, Murphy said, when all of the families went camping together at Kualoa Park. One girl's tent leaked during a rain, and her mother told her to sleep with Jones in his tent. The girl, then 12, later said Jones sexually assaulted her in the tent.
The other girls said Jones assaulted them at the dance studio or in their homes, and in most cases attempted to hypnotize them before or after the assault. The father of one of the girls confronted Jones twice and recorded their conversations. Murphy said that during the conversations Jones allegedly apologized, promised it would never happen again and admitted he needed to get help.
But his lawyer, Myron Takemoto, said Jones never admitted to doing anything wrong during the two conversations and was just trying to placate the girl's father.
Takemoto said most of the allegations were about incidents that allegedly occurred in February 2005, and the wording of the girls making those accusations is eerily similar. And they follow the plot line of one of the girls' favorite movies, "Wild Things," in which two teenage girls plot to falsely accuse their teacher of sexual assault, he said.
"This case is about the revenge of a suicidal teenage girl. This case is about the retaliation of a teenage girl who was obsessed with Daniel and rejected by Daniel," Takemoto said.
He said the other girls are simply supporting their friends. And he said the police failed to properly investigate the case and the many inconsistencies in the girls' statements.