Child porn case
nets plea

A schoolteacher pleads guilty
in a deal with prosecutors

By Debra Barayuga

A Waiau Elementary School teacher and kumu hula admitted yesterday to possessing and trading child pornography on his personal computer.

Under an agreement with federal prosecutors, Keith Kalani Akana, 45, of Pearl City pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of possessing images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in April.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors will not seek charges that Akana also distributed pornographic materials, a more serious offense punishable by 10 years' imprisonment, said assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Tong.

Akana faces maximum penalties of up to five years' imprisonment and possible fines of up to $250,000 when sentenced.

If the court accepts the agreement, Akana could be facing closer to 27 to 33 months' imprisonment, Tong said.

When federal agents spoke to Akana in April, he admitted that he regularly visited Internet chat rooms and downloaded computer files containing images of minors involved in sexually explicit conduct.

Although he claimed his computer had crashed a couple weeks earlier, his Internet provider was able to recover 17 pornographic images received between April 1 to 13, Tong said.

A search of his hard drive revealed 400 images depicting minor children involved in sexual conduct.

Also retrieved were three e-mails Akana had sent April 13 to other individuals that referred to trading child pornography and had images attached, Tong said.

Federal authorities were alerted to Akana after they found his name on a buddy list belonging to a Milwaukee man who was being investigated for child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway ruled that Akana does not appear to be a flight risk or pose a danger to the community, and allowed him to remain free while awaiting sentencing on Jan. 13.

Judith Elliot, principal of Waiau Elementary, said Akana remains on department-directed leave.

Tong said they did not find evidence of child pornography on Akana's school computer.

"We didn't have evidence directly linking his activities to anything he did either as a kumu hula or schoolteacher," Tong said.

Outside the courthouse, Akana apologized for the furor caused by his arrest.

"I apologize to everyone for the embarrassment and pain I've caused," he said.

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