- Associated Press - Thursday, July 13, 2017

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A former Hawaii prison guard is on trial on accusations that he took advantage of his position to have sexual intercourse and sexual contact with an inmate.

James Siugpiyemal, 44, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault of a female inmate, The Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/2tPnWux). His trial is scheduled to continue on Thursday.

The woman accuses Siugpiyemal of taking advantage of her twice in 2014 while she was on work release from the Maui Community Correctional Center.

Siugpiyemal’s lawyer Ben Lowenthal said the woman “has a history of deception” and is just trying to get money out of the situation.

The woman took the witness stand on Tuesday and said Siugpiyemal first contacted her one day when she left for work.

“As I was leaving to go to work, he asked me if that was me on Facebook and I told him no,” she said, referring to a photo of her in a bikini on her Facebook page. “I lied and told him that I couldn’t be on Facebook.”

The next day, as she was again leaving to go to work, she said Siugpiyemal told her he recognized her by tattoos in the Facebook photo. Later that day, she said Siugpiyemal called her.

“He let me know that I could be in trouble for being on Facebook,” she said.

The woman claimed Siugpiyemal blackmailed her many more times into not reporting his contacting her.

“I was worried that he was going to turn me in for social networking, and I would lose my (work) furlough,” she said.

In July 2014, the two met at Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu.

“He wanted to have sex with me,” she said. “I talked him out of having sex.”

She said she agreed to perform a sexual act on Siugpiyemal when he told her that if he got into trouble, she also would be in trouble.

In August 2014, the woman decided to set a camera up in her car before the two met again at the plantation.

“If I was going to go and meet him again, I wanted to have proof of what was going on,” she said. “Nobody would believe me.”

The woman said Siugpiyemal got into the back seat of her car - “Then he had sex with me,” she said.

The video recording was shown to jurors Tuesday afternoon.

The woman is being housed at the Federal Detention Center on Oahu because she faced retaliation while jailed at state facilities, a family member said.


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

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