- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A Maui County man accused of having sex with a teenager and giving the girl methamphetamine has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Clifford Muller, 24, was sentenced Tuesday, The Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/1ki6Kac). He pleaded no contest to first-degree assault and promotion of a dangerous drug as part of a plea deal that dropped a sexual assault charge against him.

Muller, of Haiku, is charged with assaulting the girl between June and August 2014 when he was 23 and she was 15.

“As a 23-year-old, this isn’t a case of boyfriend-girlfriend. This isn’t a case of consent,” said Deputy Prosecutor Kim Whitworth. “A child cannot understand the danger of entering into a sexual relationship with someone. Both physical and emotional damage happened here.”

The girl had been living with her mother and her mother’s disabled partner at a homeless encampment at the time of the alleged abuse, said Whitworth.

“He knowingly provided her with methamphetamine, leading to her addiction,” Whitworth said. The girl was diagnosed with methamphetamine-induced psychosis and is seeing doctors for permanent brain damage from the drug, according to Whitworth.

Deputy Public Defender Shelly Miyashiro said her client had been dealing with his own substance abuse issues “at the time of the offenses and this did contribute to his poor judgment, poor decision-making.”

Muller believed he loved the girl and that they were boyfriend and girlfriend, Miyashiro said.

“But the law is clear,” she said. “She was 15 at the time.”

Muller had asked to be sentenced to probation and drug treatment so that he could get “the opportunity to redeem myself.”

But in sentencing Muller, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza noted the severity of the crimes and the effects on the girl, including “tremendous upheaval in her life.”

“The result of all of this is physical injury to the minor as well as emotional injury that apparently will last for a very long time,” Cardoza said. “That’s an extremely serious circumstance. That’s why there are laws that prohibit what was occurring.”


Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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