QUESTION: Whatever happened to Michael Shimabukuro, the karate sensei accused last year of sexually assaulting one of his male students?
ANSWER: Shimabukuro continues to fight the allegations and the case is scheduled to resume April 14.
"He is looking forward to going to trial," said his attorney, Benjamin Ignacio. "I feel confident that we have strong evidence in Mr. Shimabukuro’s defense."
Shimabukuro, 32, of Moanalua pleaded not guilty in April to one count of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault. A judge dismissed one of the third-degree counts last month.
The boy, who is now 18, accused Shimabukuro of sexually assaulting him in 2008 and 2009 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, where Shimabukuro leased space for a dojo.
The center has since severed ties with Shimabukuro’s school.
On Dec. 7, Circuit Judge Randal Lee dismissed one of the counts against Shimabukuro after Ignacio argued the boy was 17 at the time of the alleged incident.
One definition of third-degree sexual assault is sexual contact with a person who is between 14 and 16 years old.
Ignacio said the boy lied about all of the allegations and mistakenly said one incident happened in 2009.
"My interpretation was that he made it up," Ignacio said. "He just chose the wrong year. … He should have done a better job of lying."
According to court documents, the boy said he didn’t know how to stop Shimabukuro in the 2009 incident because he was too young.
"I didn’t know like what words to say," he told authorities.
The boy said he was at the Cultural Center when Shimabukuro gave him beers and mixed alcoholic drinks, then took him to a bathroom, where Shimabukuro showed him pornographic videos and photos and placed a sexual device on the boy’s genitals.
Shimabukuro surrendered to police on March 24 and was released after posting $250,000 bail the same day.
He is still listed as president and director of Hawaii Karate Association, according to state business records.
No one could be reached at the association’s number and Shimabukuro could not be reached by phone.
Ignacio said Shimabukuro is still a sensei but declined to comment on his personal life and whether he continues to teach. "His students continue to support him," Ignacio said.
This update was written by Rob Shikina. Suggest a topic for "Whatever Happened To …" by writing Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail email@example.com.