Puna man accused of sexually assaulting juvenile girl scheduled to appear in court

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James Kepa

A Puna man facing sexual assault charges of a 12-year-old girl is scheduled to appear in Hilo District Court for a preliminary hearing this afternoon.

During an initial court appearance on Monday, Hilo District Court Judge Jeffrey Hawk maintained bail of $610,000 on 40-year-old James Pomaikai Kepa, of Kea‘au. He is charged with:

  • Two counts of first-degree sexual assault
  • Second-degree assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Violation of a protective order

The charges stem from an incident on Aug. 16 into the early morning hours of Aug. 17. According to a Hawai‘i Police Department press release, the victim had gone to a Hawaiian Paradise Park residence to visit Kepa’s daughter.


During the visit, court documents indicate the suspect lured the girl to his room where he closed the door and blocked it with a wooden stick and a basket filled with laundry. At that point, the probable cause statement indicates Kepa turned off the lights, grabbed “thick string” and told the victim to put her hands above her head.

According to court documents, the victim states she tried to leave the room, but Kepa prevented her from leaving. The suspect then reportedly tied the girl up, struck her in the face and upper body and sexually assaulted her.

On the morning of August 17, Kepa reportedly untied the victim and allowed her to leave his bedroom, according to police. She then left the residence and was able to contact her family and ultimately report this incident to police.


According to court records, Kepa has had four domestic violence cases filed against him since 2019. In 2021, Kepa pleaded no contest to charges of kidnapping, terroristic threatening and abuse of household member. Hilo Circuit Court Judge Peter Kubota issued a five-year probation sentence with one year jail and credit for time served.

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