POSTED: 9:20 a.m. HST, Oct 2, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 12:33 p.m. HST, Oct 2, 2013
Washington state prosecutors have dismissed charges against a 62-year-old Maui public school teacher accused of taking photos of a nude 4 year-old girl to spare her from having to testify in court.
The state Department of Education said Thomas K. Takeuchi, a social studies and science teacher at Maui High School since 1994, will remain on paid leave until "an employment suitability review" has been completed. Takeuchi was placed on leave when he was arrested in May 2012.
In addition to teaching, Takeuchi is a football referee.
Whitman County prosecutors on Sept. 20 dismissed with prejudice a felony sexual exploitation of a minor charge against Takeuchi. The maximum penalty for sexual exploitation of a minor -- a class B felony in Washington-- is 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
A spokeswoman for the Whitman prosecutors office said the case was closed because it didn't want to put "the victim through a traumatizing event of a trial forcing her to face her accuser."
Whitman County prosecutors charged Takeuchi with taking photos of the girl, who was 4 at the time, between July and October 2011. Takeuchi was visiting his family in Washington at the time.
The girl's mother found the photos in the child's camera in March 2012 and turned them over to police detectives in Pullman, Wash.
The victim told an investigator that Takeuchi took the photos, and that when the pictures were found her mother told her that they were inappropriate.
Takeuchi was arrested May 2012 and was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. He pleaded not guilty on June 7, 2012. He was released on his own recognizance.