A young man who sexually abused girls he lured via Facebook has been sentenced to more than six years in prison.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Timothy Barnack handed down a sentence of six years and one month Friday, despite Maitland Kahikinaokala Kamaunu's pleas to be let off with community service.
"I was young and immature and acted selfishly," Kamaunu, now 21, said of the nearly two years he spent from December 2013 to September 2015 sexually abusing girls he met online.
He used Facebook to find and communicate with his victims, who were all 14 and 15 years old. Once he had "friended" them on the social media site, he would invite the girls to meet him at his house in Talent or at various community parks. On more than one occasion, he provided his victims with marijuana before engaging in sex acts with them, according to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.
Kamaunu's conduct went on for almost two years before a victim came forward and reported him to police. The case was investigated by Jackson County Sheriff's Office Detective Steve Bohn, the DA's Office said.
Seven girls eventually came forward, although the four court cases against Kamaunu involved five victims, said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Zori Cook.
Barnack said he thought Kamaunu was trying to be manipulative in court with statements about gaining empathy for the girls during his time in jail. Barnack said he decided Kamaunu had not really changed when Kamaunu asked for community service, rather than saying he deserved prison.
"I don't believe him, period," the judge said.
At one point, Barnack had piled on 95 months of prison as he worked through the sentencing process case-by-case.
"Stop me when I get to 100," he told attorneys in the courtroom. A 100-month sentence would be eight years and four months in prison.
Kamaunu's defense attorneys, Jeni Feinberg and Justin Rosas, known for taking on high-profile cases, jumped in to beg Barnack to hold the sentence to six years in prison.
"That's a huge amount of time," Feinberg said.
Barnack eventually settled on 73 months.
Earlier in the sentencing hearing, Feinberg said when she first started representing Kamaunu, he was difficult to like. He seemed to have the emotional maturity of a 14- to 15-year-old boy. In that way, he was the emotional peer of his victims.
"He was very self-centered, very spoiled and very unable to take responsibility for his actions," Feinberg said.
She said Kamaunu took the initiative to read the Bible and books about relationships during the 21 months he has spent in jail awaiting the outcome of his case. Eventually, he started to feel horrified by the impacts of his actions.
"He does feel great remorse for the pain he's caused people," Feinberg said.
An expert did a psychological evaluation and concluded Kamaunu had a low risk of re-offending and was a good candidate for probation, Feinberg said.
Kamaunu's sentencing hearing came months after he pleaded guilty in February to first-degree online sexual corruption, third-degree sodomy, two counts of unlawful delivery of marijuana to a minor and two counts of third-degree rape.
Cook said the victims and their families got so tired of repeated sentencing delays that they stopped coming to the court hearings.
During the February hearing in which Kamaunu entered guilty pleas, a victim's grandmother said her granddaughter felt enormous guilt after her experience with Kamaunu. She lost her friends, started doing drugs and began failing her classes. After receiving counseling, she began to feel better and improved her grades.
After Friday's sentencing hearing, Rosas said he believes his client can turn his life around.
"I believe very much in Maitland Kamaunu, and I believe he can come out of this a better person," Rosas said.
Meanwhile, Cook offered advice for avoiding online sexual predators.
"Kids don't necessarily recognize that the person on the other end of the computer is not who they say they are," Cook said. "It's incredibly easy to create a fake profile to be somebody you're not on the Internet. If parents have good, open communication with their kids, and they're monitoring the apps they use on their phones or their home devices, that goes a long way toward protecting kids."
In a previous case from 2014, Kamaunu pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault after his pregnant girlfriend said he accused her of cheating on him, then choked, punched and bit her. Kamauna told police he jumped on her and straddled her in an effort to get her to "tell the truth." He said he slapped and bit her in self-defense, according to court documents.
— Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or email@example.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.