CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Aiea Dance School teacher Daniel Jones was surrounded by family members and friends yesterday afternoon at Circuit Court after his conviction on two counts of sex assault. CLICK FOR LARGE
Dance teacher guilty of sex assault
Jones is convicted of fondling but not of the most serious charges
A dance instructor convicted of sexual assault yesterday remained free on bond, but the prosecutor in the case vowed to put him behind bars as soon as possible.
A Circuit Court jury found Daniel Jones guilty of two counts of third-degree sexual assault relating to the fondling of a 14-year-old female student.
"He was like a kid in a candy shop over at the Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy," Deputy Prosecutor Thalia Murphy told reporters outside the courtroom. "We are going to ask for an increase in his bail so he doesn't skip town before sentencing."
After six days of deliberation, the jury found Jones innocent of two more serious charges and deadlocked on the remaining counts.
Jones remained quiet, his shoulders rounded, during the proceeding that branded him as a sex offender, with the requirement that he register as such for the rest of his life. Relatives and supporters in the gallery wept softly as the verdict was read, and later declined comment.
Judge Richard Perkins, sitting in for the trial judge, Virginia Crandall, set a sentencing date of May 7, at which time Jones, 22, could receive a five-year sentence on each of the two counts.
Jones' lawyer, Myron Takemoto, said he would argue for probation for the first-time offender.
Perkins declared a mistrial for the counts on which the jury deadlocked, and set a new trial date of June 4.
However, Murphy said she would consult with the alleged victim, another teenage girl, and her family before deciding whether to pursue those charges, all sexual assault in the third degree.
In May 2006, Jones was acquitted of 12 of 18 sexual-assault charges involving students at the Woodson academy.
The remaining six charges were the subject of the trial that ended yesterday.
"We are very disappointed in the verdict in this case," said Takemoto. "We believe Mr. Jones is not guilty. There was more than sufficient reasonable doubt in this case."
He said the verdict would be appealed and that he would file a motion to dismiss the remaining counts.
"The fight is not over," Takemoto said.
The judge sidestepped a request by Murphy to increase Jones' bail to $150,000. Crandall is expected to rule on that motion upon her return.
The jury returned not-guilty verdicts on two counts of first-degree sexual assault, involving a girl who was 12 and 13 at the time of the alleged incidents in 2004 and 2005. One of the counts included a lesser charge of third-degree sexual assault, on which the jury also was deadlocked.
The guilty verdict involves fondling the breast and genitals of a girl, 14, at her home, Murphy said. She said she would "vigorously argue" for the maximum term.
"It is my prayer that he will never teach dance to another child," she said.