Former Wahine volleyball standout pleads not guilty to assault

Kim Willoughby
Kim Willoughby
Sherri Chun
Sherri Chun

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A former University of Hawaii star athlete went from volleyball court to criminal court Monday. Kim Willoughby pleaded not guilty to attacking a woman outside a Kakaako nightclub.

As a member of Team USA, Kim Willoughby won a silver medal in indoor volleyball at the Beijing Olympics. Just a month later, she was in a Honolulu courtroom entering her plea to felony assault.

University of Hawaii sports fan Andrew Akana is shopping at Rainbowtique. He fondly recalls watching Kim Willoughby in action, the 2003 National collegiate volleyball Player of the Year and three-time All-American.

"Kim Willoughby is great," Akana said. "She was a very awesome player for UH, and I know she made recently the Olympic team as well. So, I mean, she's making Hawaii really proud right now."

But a month after capturing silver at the Olympics, the 27-year-old heads to court accused of smacking around more than just a volleyball. Prosecutors say she hit a Kailua woman in the face outside Pipeline Cafe in December 2006.

"It took some time to get through the charging process," Sherri Chun, deputy prosecutor, said. "She was initially charged with assault in the second degree. The injuries were re-evaluated, and the charge was upgraded and brought before a grand jury for assault in the first degree."

Willoughby, who plays professionally in Italy, agreed to return to Hawaii to face the charge.

"In this situation, she had found herself having to defend herself in a confrontation that she had tried to avoid but could not," Richard Hoke, defense attorney, said.

Akana is shocked by the allegations.

"That's actually really surprising. I mean, she's, as far as I know, she's been an upstanding member of the community," Akana said. "And it's pretty amazing to hear something like this."

Willoughby is free after posting $50,000 bail.

If convicted of first-degree assault, she faces up to 10 years in prison. Trial is set for next May.