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Man accused of sexual assault appears in court; victim files for TRO

The victim in a sexual assault that allegedly occurred in Volcano early Sunday morning has filed for a temporary restraining order against the man charged in the case.

The 57-year-old woman wrote in her TRO petition filed Monday in Hilo District Court that the defendant, 46-year-old James Michael Taylor, attacked and assaulted her in her own front yard.

“I walked out my front door after hearing a noise thinking it was a pig. I was then jumped by him and we fell to the ground,” the woman said in the sworn statement.

She said that as Taylor was attempting to rape her, “I screamed and he put his hands around my neck and over my mouth to silence me. I couldn’t breathe.

“He also said repeatedly that he could kill me.”

The woman said Taylor then forcibly performed sexual acts on her.

“He was calling me a bitch and (said) that I had it coming and I deserved it,” the woman wrote.

After the attack, the woman called 911, and responding officers spotted Taylor sleeping in the bushes in a neighboring vacant lot and arrested him without incident, police said.

Taylor was charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault, plus single counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping, third-degree sexual assault and third-degree assault.

The most serious charges, first-degree sexual assault, attempted first degree sexual assault and kidnapping, are all Class A felonies carrying a potential 20-year prison sentence upon conviction.

The victim wrote that she had seen Taylor — whom she apparently didn’t know but said had been staying on her street close to her house — walking by her house, adding she no longer feels safe in her own home.

“I’m fearful for my life that he may be released and come back,” the woman wrote.

No hearing has been set for the TRO petition, but Taylor’s initial court appearance on the criminal charges was Tuesday afternoon.

It’s the policy of the Tribune-Herald to not identify victims of sexual assault unless the individual chooses to go public.

During that hearing, Deputy Public Defender Zachary Wingert asked Hilo District Judge Harry Freitas to reduce Taylor’s $187,000 bail, describing Taylor’s prospects of posting such bail as “minimal.”

“According to the bail study, he has no prior felony convictions,” Wingert told the judge.

Deputy Prosecutor Nathan Wersal objected and requested Freitas maintain bail at the original amount, noting Taylor was charged with six offenses and has no permanent address.

“On the sexual assault charges, the defendant is eligible for extended terms of imprisonment,” Wersal said. “… The victim … recognized this individual from fliers posted around the neighborhood, indicating there was a level of community concern about this individual already.”

Freitas said he is “not taking into consideration the verbiage regarding the neighborhood and what the victim knew and all that other stuff.”

“However, looking at (police documents), I’m going to maintain Mr. Taylor’s bail at the present amount based on the type of charges that are in existence at this point,” the judge noted. “We can re-evaluate that amount at the preliminary hearing.”

Freitas ordered Taylor to return to court for a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Taylor remains in custody in lieu of bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

Email John Burnett at jburnett at hawaiitribune-herald.com
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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