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Waimea JROTC instructor Aguilar sentenced for sexual exploitation

LIHU‘E — Former Waimea High School JROTC instructor Victor Aguilar was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison on Thursday for sexually exploiting one of his underage students.

Aguilar, 65, pleaded guilty in May to two counts of exploitation of a minor through possession of child pornography.

“There can be no reasonable dispute that Aguilar’s conduct was reprehensible and a complete betrayal of the JROTC instructor position he held,” wrote U.S. District Attorney Clare Connors in a sentencing memo. “A substantial sentence is necessary to reflect the seriousness of this offense, to promote respect for the law, to send an adequate deterrent message against this kind of criminal conduct, and to ensure just punishment for the defendant’s offense.”

A former U.S. Army Major, Aguilar served as the Waimea High School athletics coach and JROTC instructor from 1995 until his resignation 2021. Aguilar founded the program and grew it to include more than 200 students at its peak.

In January 2021, Aguilar was placed on leave after a cadet reported he had inappropriately touched her, and that she had discovered pictures of JROTC students in bikinis and swimwear on his work computer. These pictures dated as far back as 2009 and included more than 60 students.

In a criminal investigation, Homeland Security investigators discovered sexually explicit videos featuring Aguilar and another underage cadet, which formed the basis for the federal criminal charges.

Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce of the Kaua‘i Police Department Investigative Services Bureau called Aguilar’s actions “atrocious.”

“The Court’s decision reflects the seriousness of the offenses committed against children,” said Ponce. “KPD will continue to pursue those who choose to prey on Kaua‘i’s youth, while working in collaboration with the appropriate stakeholders to accomplish this. We also recognize this victim, including all victims of sexual assault and exploitation, in our thoughts and prayers for continued healing and comfort.”

In addition to the 14-year sentence, Judge Jill Otake ordered Aguilar to serve 10 years probation and required him to pay more than $15,000 in restitution and fees.

Otake recommended Aguilar serve his time at a federal prison on the mainland.

Aguilar is set to change his plea in a separate Circuit Court case Nov. 15, where he is charged with five counts of second-degree sexual assault against one of his former cadets. In March 2021, he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Source: The Garden Island

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