A former Honolulu taxi driver convicted of sexually assaulting a female passenger was sentenced to a five-year prison term today.
Enio Ruben Tablas will also have to register as a sex offender and pay restitution to the victim. A Honolulu jury found Tablas guilty of two counts of sexual assault in the third degree late last year.
“What the facts show is that your actions in setting up the incident at the heart of this case were premeditated and predatory,” said First Circuit Court Judge Glenn J. Kim. “You clearly had a plan that you wanted to carry out to target a young woman who was alone and intoxicated and control her and get as much sexually as you could. Unfortunately for the victim in this case, she walked right into your lure.”
Following the sentencing, Tablas was taken away in handcuffs, while his now 23-year-old victim, Kayla Rose, tearfully watched.
“It was the best closure that I could get,” said Rose. Although the Honolulu Star-Advertiser does not typically name victims of sex crimes, Rose said she wants to encourage other sexual assault survivors to seek justice. “I haven’t felt safe since the incident. It’s always in the back of my mind and my nightmares. I could not help but think he was waiting at my house to kill me before I came here. Now, all my paranoia is gone.”
Rose testified during the jury trial that she was walking home after a night of drinking with friends in Waikiki when Tablas stopped and offered her a ride in his cab. There were already two men in the cab, so Rose said she felt safe. Although the men urged Tablas to drop off the woman first, Tablas took them to a club first.
Rose said she drifted in and out of consciousness during the ride, and struggled to stand on her own as Tablas led her down a path to Kahala beach. Once there, he sexually assaulted her on a lawn chair. Afterward, he drove Rose home and told her, “Remember me – I’m the red cab.”
During the jury trial, Tablas testified that he thought the July 5, 2014, encounter was consensual. While Hawaii law does not define consent, consent is not a defense in sex assault cases if someone can’t consent because of intoxication. Tablas said he didn’t realize the woman was intoxicated.
At the sentencing hearing, Tablas’ attorney Harrison Kiehm requested that Kim sentence Tablas to probation.
“I’m very sorry for what I’ve done,” Tablas said. “I have been found guilty, but I didn’t mean to do this.”
After his arrest in July 2014, Tablas posted bail and was allowed to resume driving a taxi until his conviction in November.
Tablas also faces charges in the sexual assault of another woman in March 2014. In that case, a woman was walking alone on Nuuanu Avenue after a night of drinking when Tablas approached her in his red cab and offered her a free ride. She told police she passed out in the cab and awoke to find Tablas raping her. She said he told her to smile, took her picture and dropped her off near Ala Moana Center.