East Hawaii News

Hilo Man Found Not Guilty in 2014 Airplane Assault

February 25, 2016, 2:11 PM HST
* Updated February 25, 1:58 PM
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PIXABAY Japan AirlinesMichael Tanouye, a Hilo man accused of sexually assaulting a woman aboard a Japan Airlines flight from Honolulu to Kansai, has been deemed not guilty by reason of insanity in federal court.

The ruling for the 2014 incident came on Wednesday and was based on terms between Tanouye’s attorney and a prosecutor who agreed upon facts, including conclusions from mental health experts.

Richard Sing, Tanouye’s defense attorney, said in his defense that doctors have diagnosed Tanouye with severe mental diseases and that he was unaware that he was doing something wrong.

Tanouye was 29 years old when the incident took place. The flight headed for Kansai, Japan was turned back to Hawai’i, where Tanouye was arrested and held at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu for interfering with a flight crew and aggravated sexual assault aboard an aircraft.

In 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released information on the incident, which noted that Tanouye had forced himself into the plane’s lavatory moments after a female Japanese national entered it.


The affidavit said that Tanouye pushed and forcibly removed items of clothing off the woman before exposing himself to her. The report notes that the woman pushed back and was able to push an emergency button in the lavatory.


The woman’s mother, a flight attendant, and other passengers forced the door open and subdued the Tanouye.

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