Ex-dance teacher jailed for molestation
Daniel Jones gets a year in prison in his second sex assault case
As friends and supporters wept, former dance instructor Daniel Jones left court yesterday to spend a year in jail for molesting one of his former students.
Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall, calling Jones' actions "a very serious offense," imposed the maximum sentence, which includes five years' probation and the requirement to register as a sex offender.
This was the second trial for Jones, a former instructor at the Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy in Aiea.
A former Aiea dance teacher was sentenced yesterday to a year in jail for molesting one of his former students.
Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall imposed the maximum jail term on Daniel Jones, 22, and gave him five years' probation. Additional penalties include registering as a sex offender and undergoing sex offender treatment.
Crandall described the molestation as "a very serious offense, and one that is not tolerated by our community."
Jones was convicted in March of two counts of third-degree sexual assault, which involves fondling, not sexual penetration. This was his second trial; the first, last May, resulted in acquittals on 12 of 18 counts of sexual assault involving five girls. Four of those counts involved sexual penetration.
Defense attorney Myron Takemoto, who had argued for probation, said afterward that they were disappointed the judge imposed jail time, although she had discretion to do so.
Jones did not address the court and was taken into custody after the court rejected his request for the sentence to be stayed pending an appeal. "We advised him not to make a statement because there's a possibility of appeal," Takemoto said. "We believe his conviction will be reversed and there will be another trial."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Daniel Jones said goodbye to sisters Katherine and Kelly, from left, mother Lorena and father Ed Higa after being sentenced yesterday to a year in prison and five years' probation for molesting a former dance student. CLICK FOR LARGE
Jones' family and numerous supporters who filled half the courtroom wept as he was escorted from the courtroom by sheriff's deputies.
The supporters maintain that he is innocent and describe him as benevolent, musically gifted, trusting and forgiving. They accused the girls and their families of lying and of continuing to lie, saying Jones is the victim.
"Daniel is not a predator, a pedophile, nor does he have a hidden agenda," said Ed Higa, Jones' father.
Deputy Prosecutor Thalia Murphy commended the girls in the case for having the bravery to come forward, and the police detective who worked the case.
Murphy asked the judge to ban Jones from the Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy in Aiea and from teaching dance to children.
"I want children there to be safe," Murphy said afterward. "The studio didn't protect the kids in this case, and took Daniel Jones' side and didn't believe and protect the children."
Crandall banned Jones from the studio and required that he be properly supervised around children, as required by Adult Probation Services.
Studio founder Rosalie Woodson, who also employed Jones' mother and sisters at the studio, supported Jones from the beginning, announcing after the hearing that she would hire him back after all this was over.
The father of the girl who was molested said they were satisfied that Jones received some jail, but it was not their objective. "Whether he had jail time or not, that wasn't as important as validating the efforts of all of these children who came forward in the protection of other children," he said.
Murphy described Jones as a "sexual predator, a con artist" who won the trust of the girl and her parents, claiming to be homeless so that they would allow him to sleep over in February 2005.
The girl, who has quit dancing, addressed Jones in court, saying that his actions robbed her not just of her passion for dancing, but relationships she had cultivated over the years at the studio. "We were like family -- we shared a bond," she said.
"Daniel, I trusted you like the older brother I never had. I held you to that standard. You betrayed me," she said.