Sex assaults of girl, 7, cast shadow on YMCA program


POSTED: Saturday, June 06, 2009

An alleged series of sexual assaults against a 7-year-old girl has YMCA of Honolulu officials facing questions about its “;junior leader”; program.

James D. Rouse is accused of sexually assaulting the girl while he was a junior leader at the YMCA in Mililani during June and July 2007.

Rouse, now 18, was indicted Thursday by a Oahu grand jury on charges including the continuous sexual assault of a minor and three counts of third-degree sex assault. One of the counts in the indictment alleges Rouse had three or more acts of sexual penetration or contact in the summer of 2007.

His bail was set at $100,000.

Larry Bush, president of the YMCA of Honolulu, issued a written statement yesterday that stressed that the teenager was not an employee or volunteer of the YMCA.

He said those in the YMCA Junior Leader program pay to participate.

According to the YMCA, the program teaches teenagers life skills through leadership activities, working with children and assisting adult leaders. In addition to leadership training sessions, teens participate in social events building their confidence and problem-solving skills.

YMCA officials did not respond to Star-Bulletin questions about training, screening and supervision of junior leaders.

Bush wrote that it is always a tragedy when child abuse occurs. He said as one of the largest providers of children and youth services, the YMCA's goal for the past 140 years has been to protect young people.

YMCA official Susan Nakamura said she was unable to discuss details regarding the alleged assaults and that the organization was still looking into the matter.

Police said Rouse was assigned as a junior leader to the group that included the girl during a trip on June 26, 2007, to Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. While riding on a bus, the girl awoke to find him touching her genitalia over her clothing, police allege.

Police charge there were at least three other incidents.

Rouse turned himself in to police in 2008. On May 29, 2009, Family Court Judge Bode A. Uale waived his jurisdiction and allowed Rouse to be tried as an adult, according to police.

The mandatory penalty for continuous sexual assault of a minor is 20 years in prison.