Former Hawai‘i Youth Challenge Academy cadre found guilty on 9 charges of sexual assault
A Puna man is facing up to 10 years in prison or five years probation after a Hilo jury found the former Hawai‘i Youth Challenge Academy cadre guilty of nine sexual assault offenses.
Indicted in May 2018, the jury returned the verdict on 42-year-old Paul Banashihan, Jr. on June 30. He was not in custody during the trial.
The academy, part of the state’s National Guard Youth Challenge Program, is a community-based program that leads, trains and mentors 16- to 18-year-old high school dropouts so that they may become productive citizens. Banashihan was employed as a cadre at the time the offenses occurred in April 2018.
Banashihan was found guilty on three counts of second-degree sexual assault, two counts of second-degree attempted sexual assault and four counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.
The charges of second-degree sexual assault and second-degree attempted sexual assault carry a penalty of either up to 10 years in prison or five years probation and up to 18 months in jail. Fourth-degree sexual assault is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
On July 3, a 3rd Circuit Court judge granted Hawai‘i County prosecutors’ request to take Banashihan into custody and be held without bail pending determination of an extended-term hearing. Prosecutors previously provided notice of an intent to seek an extended term. The next court hearing is scheduled on July 13.