comscore Kanoelani custodian denies sex assault allegation | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Kanoelani custodian denies sex assault allegation

    James Holt

The attorney for a 53-year-old school custodian says James Holt is “devastated” and denies the accusation that he sexually assaulted a minor male student at Kanoelani Elementary School in Waipio Gentry last week.

Holt made his initial appearance in District Court Thursday morning to face a charge of third-degree sexual assault. Holt did not enter a plea.

District Judge Linda Luke set Sept. 26 as Holt’s preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m. in District Court. Luke also confirmed Holt’s bail at $50,000.

However, Victor Bakke, Holt’s attorney, said he expects Holt’s case will be presented to an Oahu grand jury before then, negating the preliminary hearing.

Because the defendant is a minor all of court document’s have been sealed.

Bakke said he still doesn’t have police records on the case.

“I haven’t been given any information,” Bakke told reporters after Holt’s brief hearing.

Holt said the charge “came out of the blue.”

Bakke said Holt denies everything.

“There has been no investigation,” Bakke said. “Everything was done in a short period. We have been given no information.”

Holt, who has been a Department of Education employee since 2000, was arrested at the school Aug. 27 on suspicion of first-degree sexual assault. 

Bakke said the child identified Holt at Kanoelani Wednesday with a police officer standing near him.

Bakke said Holt was immediately taken to jail and sat there until he was charged Monday with the lesser offense of third-degree sex assault.

Holt left the downtown court house with Bakke and did not talk with reporters.

The DOE said Thursday it is conducting its own investigation, during which time Holt is banned from the campus. He has not been terminated from his position, classified as a casual, at-will employee. 

Bakke said he didn’t know how long Holt worked at the  elementary school, which serves 740 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Third-degree sexual assault involving a person who is younger than 14 years old is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Kanoelani Elementary Principal Stacie Kunihisa sent a letter to parents Tuesday, informing them that the school “initiated a criminal investigation into an alleged sexual assault that took place last week on our school campus. The incident … involved an adult and a student. The Police Department was immediately notified and an adult male who worked as a substitute custodian was arrested.”

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