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Trial set for sex assault suspect

A 37-year-old Pahoa man accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls pleaded not guilty Wednesday to all charges.

Acting Hilo Circuit Judge Harry Freitas ordered Aaron K. Gomes to appear for trial at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 8, 2018. Deputy Prosecutor Evans Smith estimated trial would take about two weeks.

According to a police log, Gomes was taken into custody on a bench warrant at 12:55 p.m. Tuesday at the Hilo Walmart.

A Sept. 6 indictment by a Hilo grand jury charged him with two counts of continuous sexual assault of a minor younger than 14, six counts of first-degree sexual assault, and 13 counts of third-degree sexual assault.

According to the indictment, the offenses allegedly occurred between Aug. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015, with “the exact dates and times being unknown, but in a continuous course of conduct” and that Gomes “knowingly engaged” in sexual penetration and sexual contact with the girls.

Deputy Public Defender Patrick Munoz requested that Gomes be freed on supervised release or his $114,000 bail be “reduced by approximately $55,000.”

“Mr. Gomes receives food stamps and would be financially unable to even approach making bail at the current … level,” Munoz said. “… Even reducing it by half would be difficult.”

Freitas reduced bail to $106,000 — $10,000 for each Class A felony and $2,000 for each Class C felony.

Among the bail conditions is that Gomes have no contact with the girls, that he neither threaten nor harm them, and that he remain at least 100 yards away from them.

Some of Gomes’ family and friends were present at the hearing. Gomes, who appeared emotional, turned to face them repeatedly while the judge was speaking to him, prompting Munoz and a sheriff’s deputy to motion several times for Gomes to face the judge.

A woman in the gallery said “I love you” as Gomes was led back to the courtroom cellblock after arraignment.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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