Maui police urge trust
in wake of arrest

WAILUKU >> Maui Police Chief Thomas Phillips said the arrest of patrolman Aaron Won for allegedly trying to extort sexual favors from a female motorist shows "we're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior."

Aaron Won: His trial in Maui court on charges of extortion and kidnapping is set for Nov. 1

During an afternoon news conference yesterday, Phillips said the incident was a "huge disappointment, but there are going to be problems in a department the size of Maui's.

"The message would be: The public should continue to have trust in our agency," he said.

Yesterday, Won, 25, of Wailuku, pleaded not guilty to multiple felonies, including first-degree and second-degree attempted sexual assault, second-degree attempted extortion, and kidnapping. His trial in Maui Circuit Court was scheduled for Nov. 1.

Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza continued Won's bail at $100,000.

Won was arrested Monday after being indicted by a Maui grand jury. He has been on leave since the investigation began on July 28.

According to police, the woman said she was pulled over on Lower Honoapiilani Highway in Kahana in west Maui on the morning of July 28 and was instructed to get into the back seat of the marked patrol vehicle to go to the police office at Napili.

Police allege Won arrested her after she refused to engage in certain sexual acts.

Police said Won handcuffed the woman, took her back to her vehicle, then called police dispatch at 9:46 a.m. to say he was transporting a female in custody to the Lahaina Police Station.

According to police, the female was arrested on charges of driving without a valid driver's license and insurance, and with an expired safety check -- allegations "which do not appear valid." The woman was released at 2:30 p.m. after posting $407 in bail.

Phillips said during the six years he's served as police chief, this is the first time a Maui police officer has been accused of trying to extort sexual favors.

Police said Won violated department policy by failing to report to the communications section the time of departure, odometer reading, destination and time of arrival when he took the woman to the Napili office.

Police also said Won did not follow department policy when he took her to the Napili office, which is used for report writing, and not to the police station of the district.

Community volunteer Victor Chicas said the patrolman's selection of a Hispanic female demonstrates the vulnerability of being a Spanish-speaking immigrant on Maui.

"The Hispanics feel like a target," said Chicas, who works as an English-Spanish translator and a Catholic church volunteer in west Maui.

Chicas said in most instances when confronted with a conflict with authorities, Hispanic immigrants will choose to move to another state for fear that they and their families will face retaliation.

"Even though some people know it's against civil rights and there's some protection, the immigrants don't feel free to speak," Chicas said.

Phillips said the woman, who spoke little English, knew a Hispanic police officer and spoke later that day to him about the incident.

The police officer then spoke to the commander of the Lahaina station, Phillips said.

County of Maui



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