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Puna man indicted for sex assault

A Hilo grand jury has indicted a 54-year-old Mountain View man for the alleged sexual assault of an adult woman more than three years ago.

The indictment, returned Sept. 18, charges Samuel Sniffen Sr., with a single count of second-degree sexual assault, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction.

The indictment states the offense took place on May 25, 2016. Police spokesman Alan Richmond said in an email the alleged act took place in a private residence in Hilo. He said the complaining witness told police she “fell asleep on a couch at a private residence then later awakened in a bedroom with her undergarments removed.”

According to the indictment, Sniffen “knowingly subjected” the alleged victim to a sexual act and described the complainant as “physically helpless.” The document defined physically helpless as “unconscious or for any other reason physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.”

The Tribune-Herald doesn’t identify victims of sexual assault unless they choose to go public.

Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said Wednesday with funds from a federal grant he brought in a retired police investigator and a retired deputy prosecutor last year to “go over several sex assault cases” that were considered cold or cooling.

“They went over a number of cases from over a period of time to look at how we could do a better job,” Roth said. “There’s been some new research that has been done and … this case was looked at again and we believed we could go forward.”

A bench warrant for Sniffen’s arrest was issued with the indictment. His bail was set at $10,000 and he was ordered to stay away from the complainant.

As of Wednesday, Sniffen hadn’t been taken into custody.

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

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