HONOLULU (KHON2) — Legal experts are pointing to several unusual aspects of the sexual assault and kidnapping case involving Michael Hirokawa. Hirokawa was found not guilty, and experts are hopeful that this verdict will not discourage future victims of sexual assault from stepping forward.
The case posed a significant challenge for prosecutors who were tasked with proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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Former attorney general Doug Chin commented on the jury’s decision:
“Here the jury must’ve found that there was a reasonable doubt raised by the defendant Mr. Hirokawa’s claim of involuntary intoxication. He testified that he had unknowingly ingested drugs that affected his state of mind.”
The substances in question were Ambien, a sleeping medication, and LSD, a potent psychedelic.
Another legal expert, former deputy prosecutor Megan Kau, elaborated on this point.
“It could be any substance. If someone were to force some type of drug or alcohol into your system without your consent, you may use that as a defense,” said Kau.
A pivotal moment of the trial came when Hirokawa took the stand, an approach legal experts have deemed unusual.
Chin highlighted the effectiveness of this strategy and said “By taking the stand, Mr. Hirokawa was not only able to share his side of the story, he was also subjected to being rigorously questioned by the prosecutor.”
The jury, comprising of ten men and two women, may have been influenced by this narrative. Kau discussed the potential impact of this on their perception of the case.
She said, “One might think, ‘This could be me. I could have been drugged by someone in my home. I could have potentially been robbed. Therefore, I’m going to find him not guilty because I believe him and I empathize with him.'”
Despite the verdict, Kau does not fear that it will dissuade other sexual assault victims from coming forward.
“As a former deputy prosecuting attorney, I’ve seen sexual assault cases result in both guilty and not guilty verdicts. That’s the nature of our justice system. I don’t anticipate this case to discourage any future complainants from bringing a case forward or testifying,” said Kau.
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Chin echoed these sentiments, saying, “Hopefully this doesn’t affect future victims, and they should know that there’s a substantial support network for anyone who comes forward to report a sexual assault.”