Sex assault suspect previously deemed mentally unfit, risk to - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Sex assault suspect previously deemed mentally unfit, risk to others

Joseph Navas Joseph Navas
Vickie Kapp Vickie Kapp

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man accused of sexually assaulting a Mililani restaurant owner last Friday was deemed mentally unfit and a risk to others less than two years ago. Joseph Navas now faces trial on multiple violent charges.

An Oahu grand jury on Wednesday indicted the suspect on 10 felony charges, including robbery, kidnapping and seven counts of sex assault. The 44-year-old is in custody, unable to post $250,000 bail.

"This suspect has 83 prior arrests," Vickie Kapp, deputy prosecutor, said.

In late 2008, a judge dismissed an unrelated burglary case against Navas and involuntarily committed him to the Hawaii State Hospital, after a panel of mental health experts examined him and determined that he was mentally ill and unfit to proceed. Doctors diagnosed him with disorganized schizophrenia, along with alcohol and drug abuse.

In his report to the court, Leonard Jacobs, M.D. wrote, "His risk for harm to self, others, and property if discharged is moderate to high unless he can be placed in a highly structured, closely supervised 24-hour facility with wrap around services."

Prosecutors say last Friday, the homeless man attacked a 47-year-old woman at a restaurant in Mililani.

"The owner was alone in her business when the suspect grabbed her, carried her to the back storage room and physically restrained her where he committed numerous sexual offenses against her," Kapp said. "The suspect was found in the restaurant when he was arrested. He had filled two plastic trash bags with merchandise from the restaurant."

Prosecutors do say Navas was not on probation or parole last Friday.

The state Department of Health, which oversees the mental health facility in Kaneohe, says it shares the community's concern.

"There are approximately 15,000 individuals in our state who have a severe mental illness. Very few of those individuals commit crimes, and even fewer are violent. As a group, those with severe and persistent mental illness are not more violent than the general population," DOH officials said in a written statement.

Honolulu prosecutors say they were no longer involved with Navas when he was released from the state hospital because it was a civil, not criminal, commitment.

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