HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A judge’s decision on Wednesday closed a sexual assault case that made international headlines.
Rika Shimizu was accused of preying on a Japanese exchange student who was staying at her dorm-style home in Manoa.
Court documents alleged the first incident happened in October 2017 when the 16-year-old boy was bedridden with an injury. She allegedly threatened him to keep him quiet.
The case ran into trouble when the judge threw out key evidence last December due to police mistakes during the arrest and investigation. Prosecutors later dropped all nine charges just days before the trial because the alleged victim was refusing to testify.
“Never once was the state informed through the guardian that he no longer wished to go through with any of this,” said deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ayla Weiss.
“But nobody from your office sat down with the kid,” responded Circuit Court Judge Glenn Kim.
“He’s a teenage boy who was in high school at the time. The purpose of a pretrial meeting is to prepare him for trial," replied Weiss. “We only generally make them re-live that incident, go through the questions, talk about it again when it’s time for trial.”
“That may be your practice, with all due respect,” countered Kim.
Since prosecutors could still refile the charges, the defense team on Wednesday asked the judge to eliminate that possibility due to potential problems with her visa.
“It’s cruel and unusual punishment for her to face re-prosecution on these charges for the rest of her natural life, whether she’s here, whether she’s in Japan,” argued Pamela Lundquist, an attorney for Shimizu.
The judge granted the motion, dismissing the case with prejudice.
Shimizu’s attorneys said there was never any sexual contact between the two.
“I didn’t do anything. I didn’t have the chance to tell the truth so far then finally I can do it. I’m so happy now,” said Shimizu, outside the courtroom.
Shimizu spent 45 days in jail and she had planned to return to Japan. After the judge’s decision, however, she wants to renew her visa and keep running her business in Hawaii.