Suspect in fatal kidnapping got big settlement over sex assault at youth facility

Suspect in fatal kidnapping got big settlement over sex assault at youth facility
(Image: Mug shot)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 35-year-old woman indicted Tuesday for a kidnapping that ended with the victim dead was among the victims herself of Hawaii youth facility officers who took advantage of girls in their custody from 2002 to 2005.

Stacey Costales Maae was among several girls who sued the state in 2007 over abuse at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility in Kailua.

A jury ordered the state and a youth corrections officer to pay her more than $1 million in damages. But the state appealed and eventually settled for $462,000 in 2015.

The guard was also ordered to pay a similar amount of damages.

At least three other former wards of the youth correctional facility received settlements and the ACLU intervened in the courts to reform the poorly-managed facility.

Costales herself claimed that her mistreatment as a youth contributed to her mental illness and drug addictions and a life of crime.

In a letter to a judge last year, Costales asked for release to drug treatment. She told the judge she had PTSD due to the abuse she suffered in state foster care and at the youth correctional facility.

“However, I refuse to let these things define me as an individual, and am begging you to give me one more chance,” she wrote.

The judge released her to a drug treatment facility, but she relapsed and was returned to custody.

Since then, she has been charged with another violent robbery, a hit-and-run and has now been indicted along with another suspect for the fatal kidnapping of Benjamin Awong.

Awong’s body was found bound and dumped off Old Kalanianaole Highway in Kailua.

Maae remains in custody, unable to meet $500,000 bail.

The other suspect, Keone Labatad, also remains behind bars. His bail has been set at $1 million.

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