Prosecutor blames predecessor for lost sex assault cases

Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro held a news conference Tuesday in response to Always Investigating’s story about a lack of details in dropped sex assault cases.

He wanted to make one thing clear: The 15-20 sex assault cases dropped were cases that lingered from his predecessor’s administration.

Kaneshiro told us back in November what he found in a former deputy prosecutor’s office: a stack of sex assault cases dating back to at least 2010, before his tenure, whose statute of limitations had expired.

Always Investigating followed up over the months since then trying to get more specifics about the cases and prove the case-tracking system is better now.

Kaneshiro repeatedly refused our requests for an on-camera interview for Always Investigating’s follow-up story. Only his spokesperson provided written statements.

“Is there a reason you declined to speak with us on camera, to our repeated requests for comment?” Always Investigating asked Kaneshiro at Tuesday’s press conference.

“I just told you, I said the focus on this press conference is on the inaccurate and unfair reporting, and let me repeat, this administration was not responsible for the statute of limitations expiring on those 15-20 cases. It was the Peter Carlisle administration,” he responded.

That’s something former Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle questions. He says he can’t confirm where the cases in question originated, because no specific information about them is being disclosed. He says the office has recent problems with delayed cases and case tracking besides those older sex assaults.

“All you’ve got to do with this is give it to somebody independent who has the right credentials to do something about it,” he said, “which is to investigate what happened, determine what the cause was and figure out how to fix it.”

As for Kaneshiro, Carlisle said, “It seems like it’s a lay-the-blame game. He’s trying to figure out who is at fault and apparently you’re at fault. Apparently I’m at fault.”

KHON2 did cover the prosecutor’s perspective and the dispute between administrations in previous stories. All of those stories are linked on our website, including Monday’s coverage on the lack of case information and whether a case-tracking fix is working.

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