State will handle domestic abuse case against Maui County’s top civil attorney
WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The physical abuse case against Maui County’s top civil attorney will be turned over to the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said Monday.
Corporation Counsel Patrick Wong, 53, was placed on administrative leave Saturday after officers arrested him at a Wailuku home for abuse of a household member.
A spokesman for the Maui Police Department said Wong was released after posting $1,000 bail.
The mayor said he was disappointed by the arrest.
“Mr. Wong and I have met. It is an unfortunate incident ― for me, not an incident that I can tolerate,” said Victorino.
“He gave me his side and I have been able to meet with the other party and she gave me her side and I’m waiting for the police to put all the facts on the table.”
Victorino said he wanted the state Attorney General’s Office to take over the case to prevent any appearance of a conflict of interest.
The Department of Corporation Counsel’s first deputy, Edward Kushi, will fill in for Wong.
Wong’s arrest follows a tough confirmation process, during which some expressed concerns about how Wong interacts with staff and others.
“I think it kind of speaks to the issue about why some of us had concerns about public confidence, why we believed those who came forward with stories of intimidation,” said Council Chair Kelly King.
Wong was reappointed last month by a 5-to-4 vote after Maui Councilwoman Tasha Kama switched her position to support him.
Councilwoman Alice Lee, who voted in favor of Wong, said she was shocked and dismayed by the abuse allegation.
“We need to get on with the county’s business and I would surmise that the investigation into the allegations against Mr. Wong would take quite some time,” she said.
“I believe in the best interest of moving the county forward, perhaps he should consider stepping down.”
Councilwoman Keani Ralwins-Fernandez opposed Wong’s confirmation.
“It took domestic violence, visible injuries on a poor girl’s body, for the council to see the truth about him,” she said.
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