HONOLULU (KHNL) - A beloved dance teacher or a sexual predator? After several delays, trial finally gets underway for a man accused of sexually assaulting students at a dance school in Aiea.
"This case is about a man who crossed over the line," Thalia Murphy, deputy prosecutor, told jurors.
With a supporting cast behind him, Daniel Jones listens as prosecutors set the stage for his sex assault trial.
"He crossed over the line that divides an adult from a child by violating the innocence of five young girls," Murphy said.
Jones was an instructor at the Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy in Aiea. Five students are accusing the 21-year-old of touching them inappropriately on separate occasions.
"His hand worked its way up her leg, inside her shorts, inside her panties," Murphy said. "And the defendant placed his hand on her genitalia."
Prosecutors say four of the girls reported Jones tried to hypnotize them during the assaults.
The defense describes Jones as a good-natured, playful person who tickled his students, offered massages, and performed hypnosis as a hobby. But the defense maintains Jones did not engage in sexual acts with the girls.
"When kids climb on his lap, he tickles them to get off," Myron Takemoto, defense attorney, said. "There's massages that go on at the dance studio among all of these students, teachers. They're dance students by nature."
Jones is charged with 18 counts of sex assault. The defense suggests the five friends made it all up.
"The only evidence you will hear are the words of these complaining witnesses," Takemoto said. "There will be no medical evidence. There will be no scientific evidence."