WAILUKU - Calling the defendant's actions inexcusable and immoral, a judge ordered an 18-month jail term for a Wailuku man convicted of sexually abusing a teenage girl during a period of nearly two years.
Marlon Buniel, 46, also was placed on five years' probation as part of his sentence Wednesday.
He had pleaded no contest to kidnapping and a reduced charge of fourth-degree sexual assault of the girl from August 2007 to June 2009.
The girl and her siblings had looked up to Buniel, who had a relationship with a family member, said Deputy Prosecutor Simone Polak. She said authorities stepped in when the girl reported at school what had happened.
Noting that the girl was 16 years old at the time, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said "she was very young, very fragile."
"Your behavior was inexcusable, your behavior was immoral," the judge told Buniel.
In court Wednesday, Buniel said he was sorry.
"I always ask in my prayers for your forgiveness," he said to the girl.
His attorney, Myles Breiner, asked that Buniel be spared a jail term or be allowed to serve the term on weekends so he could continue working. Buniel has two jobs and supports his family of six as well as other family members, Breiner said.
He said Buniel had already registered as a sex offender and had started sex offender treatment at his own expense.
The victim, who also spoke in court, said jail was the right punishment for what Buniel did.
"This chapter in my life was, by far, the hardest and most emotional thing that I have ever had to deal with," she said. "I hope this never happens to any other person - any boy, any girl, anyone."
She told Buniel she forgives him. "Without learning to forgive you, I believe I wouldn't be able to move on with my life," she said. "But you and everyone in this courtroom know that what you have done was wrong, and I feel sorry for you."
While acknowledging Buniel's lack of prior criminal record and reputation as hardworking, Loo said the victim's suffering was "five to 10 times" greater than Buniel's.
"She deserves normalcy in her life," Loo said. "She deserves to be free of fear, free of trauma. She needs to know she did nothing wrong. It wasn't her fault."
Loo said Buniel's actions also affected both his and her family members.
"I cannot excuse what you did to this young girl," Loo told Buniel. "You basically took away her innocence. I hope one day with the help of family and friends, she's able to regain that."
Buniel was ordered to pay to pay $400 in restitution and to complete sex offender treatment. He also was ordered to have no contact with minor children and not to live in the same residence as minor children unless he has permission from his probation officer.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.