Jury acquits Hula's Bar owner of rape charge
A Circuit Court jury took less than an hour yesterday to find local club owner Jack Law not guilty of charges he raped a 31-year-old acquaintance.
Law, who is gay and is well-known in the local community as the owner of Hula's Bar & Lei Stand -- a longtime Waikiki fixture popular among tourists and locals alike -- had been charged with three counts of second-degree sexual assault that allegedly occurred March 21, 2005.
The case was turned over to the jury after lunch yesterday, and they quickly notified the court that they had reached a unanimous decision.
"The swiftness of the jury's verdict underscores the fact that there was nothing to this case whatsoever," defense attorney Todd Eddins said afterward. "His name was dragged through the mud, and we are just grateful that the jury saw the truth."
Law took the stand in his defense, and described in detail the sex acts they had engaged in and how difficult it was to talk about it publicly.
"You always hear in civics class that you are innocent until proven guilty. I felt like I was guilty until proven innocent," Law said. "It was very, very difficult."
He said he felt sorry for people unable to defend themselves. "This can happen to anybody, gay or straight, to be accused of rape and have no way to defend themselves."
At trial, the defense attacked the accuser's credibility, characterizing him as a "truth-challenged" opportunist who sought to ruin the reputation of a man well-respected in the local community for starting the Life Foundation and his work with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.
"For the prosecution not to see it all these months -- who they were dealing with, and who their so-called victim was and who this man really was -- that's what is outrageous about it," Eddins said.
Deputy Prosecutor Lucianne Khalaf said the jury's decision was very disappointing. She expressed concern over the length of time the jury took to deliberate, given the considerable evidence the state presented at trial.
"We felt confident that, if they had taken the time to examine that evidence closely, piece together the facts, which are undisputable, that they would reach a more favorable verdict," she said. "But it's a jury trial and we are accepting it."
Khalaf said the state's case was strong because the symptoms described by the victim were consistent with having received drugs.
The victim, a former Marine who was honorably discharged and is receiving 100 percent disability after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, had been under the treatment of a doctor and was stable on medication at the time of the rape.
Law, 60, did not deny the two had sex at his Sierra Drive home, but he maintained the sex was consensual and that he never forced or drugged the man.