Sex offender sentenced to 10-year prison term

Published On: Jun 26 2013 06:11:09 PM HST
Updated On: Jun 26 2013 06:16:39 PM HST
Costa Rita Sr.

Costa Rita Sr.

LIHUE, Hawaii -

Joseph Costa Rita Sr., 73, of Kalaheo, was sentenced Wednesday to a total of 10 years in prison for the sexual assault of a teenager.

Rita was convicted of third-degree sexual assault for assaulting a minor under the age of 14 and for failing to comply with covered offender requirements, both class C felonies.

Rita was sentenced to an open five-year term for each felony, and the terms were imposed to run consecutively. 

Deputy prosecuting attorney Lisa Arin said in court that Rita had betrayed the trust of the 13-year-old victim and her family by taking advantage of their kindness when they had provided him a place to live and invited him to be a part of their family.

Arin vigorously urged the court to impose the consecutive sentences. She emphasized that it had taken Rita less than a year to commit this crime and to fall out of compliance with his registration requirements after serving a 15-year term of imprisonment for his prior sexual assault and incest convictions.

Rita’s attorney, Stephanie Sato, argued that the two five-year prison terms run concurrent to each other, asking the court to consider that her client has health issues, was legally eligible for probation, and that his prior criminal history was remote in time.

The judge agreed to consecutive sentencing, finding no mitigating factors in favor of Rita, and finding that the safety of the community and deterrence to future criminal conduct were the overriding factors in the case.

Prosecuting attorney Justin F. Kollar said, “Those who prey on the most vulnerable and trusting in their lives cannot and will not be permitted to remain in settings where they can continue to hurt others. These crimes destroy families and inflict deep and lasting trauma on their victims."

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