Friday, March 26, 1999

Kevin K. Kurasaki
charged in child molestation case

Teacher faces 11
sex assault charges

The Mililani Mauka Elementary
teacher is accused of molesting
an 11-year-old girl

By Crystal Kua


He is a teacher but also a family friend of a girl he now stands accused of molesting.

Kevin K. Kurasaki, 36, of Pearl City is charged with four counts of first-degree sexual assault and seven counts of third-degree sexual assault.

First-degree sexual assault is a Class A felony punishable by 20 years in prison, while third-degree sexual assault is a Class C felony that carries up to five years in prison.

Kurasaki is being held by police in lieu of $75,000 bail. If he is unable to post bail, he will be taken to District Court on Monday.

The Mililani Mauka Elementary School teacher is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl, a fifth-grader at the school, on three occasions.

The girl was not in his class, police said.

The first occurred in December at a location police would not disclose; the second took place in January in his classroom during school hours; and the third occurred in his classroom March 18, police said.

The first-degree sexual assault charges came out of the first and third occasions. The incident that occurred during school hours involved fondling, police said.

Police Lt. Wayne Fergerstrom said that during the most recent incident, Kurasaki picked up the girl to take her to a softball game.

He instead took the girl to his classroom where he sexually assaulted her, Fergerstrom said. "After the sexual assault, he then took her back to the softball game, and they watched the softball game."

The girl told her parents Tuesday, Fergerstrom said.

"She was feeling guilty about it, very sad," Fergerstrom said. "Her mother said she was feeling depressed."

Fergerstrom described Kurasaki as a family friend who picked up the girl and others regularly to watch softball games.

Fergerstrom said the investigation at this time involves only one child.

The principal of Mililani Mauka Elementary could not be reached for comment.

Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said Kurasaki was placed on department-directed paid leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, an action that is standard procedure.

"This action was taken immediately upon learning about the charges (Wednesday night)," Knudsen said.

Superintendent Paul LeMahieu issued a statement that the department is also investigating the case.

"I want to express my deep concerns about the alleged sexual assaults involving a Mililani Mauka Elementary teacher and student," LeMahieu said.

LeMahieu said that department's primary concern is for the well-being of the student, the student's family and other students who might be affected.

The investigation will look at the scope of the allegations and whether there may be any related incidents.

LeMahieu said the department will be offering counseling to anyone who is affected.

"The school principal and district leadership ... decisive actions should reassure parents that the public schools offer a safe learning environment," LeMahieu said.

"A teacher has rights like everybody else. He is considered innocent until proven guilty," said Danielle Lum, HSTA spokeswoman. "They cannot be fired because they have charges against them."

She said the accused man is only one of 12,000 public schoolteachers. "They are working hard with what DOE deals them, keeping kids safe and doing the best that they can. Please don't paint all teachers with the same brush."

She also noted that there have been cases in which students have recanted sexual assault allegations made against teachers.

"We're not saying that this kid is lying or saying that this teacher is guilty or innocent. We're just asking for people to wait with an open mind," Lum said.

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