Jealous revenge cited in dance teacher's defense
The molestation trial of the popular instructor wraps up
A 13-year-old girl obsessed with former dance teacher Daniel Jones falsely accused him of sexual assault because she believed he had been touching another girl, Jones' defense attorney contends.
The girl, who didn't report the assaults immediately after they happened, came forward not because "it was the right time," as she claimed, but "because she's pissed -- because the guy she liked was touching her friend and I'm gonna get him," defense attorney Myron Takemoto said yesterday as the trial in Circuit Court came to a close.
Jones, 21, is charged with four counts of first-degree sexual assault and 14 counts of third-degree sexual assault on five former dance students who grew up dancing at the Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy in Aiea. The charges range from touching the girls' breasts, buttocks and genitals to oral sex and digital penetration.
The assaults allegedly occurred beginning in August 2004 during a camp at Kualoa up until March 2005 at the studio or the girls' homes, where Jones was allowed to sleep over.
The girls testified Jones, who was well-liked by their parents and other students, would touch them in their private areas after he allegedly hypnotized them.
Jones denies touching the girls inappropriately. When confronted with details of the allegations during a March 2005 meeting with dance director Woodson, his mother, the 13-year-old and her mother, Jones allegedly did not deny the allegations but said, "I don't remember."
The defense ended its case yesterday with Jones not taking the stand. The case is expected to go to jurors today.
Deputy Prosecutor Thalia Murphy said the case was about Jones' betrayal of the girls' trust, of friendship, of family and every girl's right to grow up unmolested and to feel safe in her own home.
The girls had nothing to gain from reporting Jones, and lost not only their dignity, but the one thing they loved most -- dancing at the Aiea studio, she said.
Child psychologist Alex Bivens had testified that children who are abused don't report right away because they're afraid of upsetting anyone, especially if the molester is a family member or friend, or afraid they would not be believed or would get into trouble.
Takemoto described Jones' accusers as lacking in credibility and crying out for attention. He called the girls claims ridiculous.
Murphy said that even if Jones had the girls' consent, that is not a defense when it comes to children.
"You can't have sexual contact or penetration with children, period, even if they don't object," Murphy said.