A former Niu Valley Middle School teaching assistant indicted in the state's first-ever sexting case in Hawaii to result in criminal charges, pleaded guilty in circuit court on Wednesday.
Cody Onizuka, 26, stood before a judge to admit his guilt in stalking and harassing a 12-year-old girl who was a sixth-grade student at Niu Valley Middle School where he worked as a teaching assistant.
"He knew how old she was. In fact, they had discussed that in many of their text messages back and forth," said deputy prosecutor Chris Van Marter.
Onizuka is accused of convincing the girl to take nude photos of herself with a cell phone he bought for her.
Prosecutors said Onizuka stored the images on a computer and engaged in repeated sexting with the girl.
They said he disregarded a temporary restraining order and ignored requests by the girl's mother to stay away.
"In our view, this was very serious because of the breach of trust that he perpetrated in his position as a teachers assistant. He's supposed to be held to a higher standard and he breached that standard," said Van Marter.
In a plea agreement, Onizuka plead guilty to a felony count of aggravated harassment by stalking and one count of misdemeanor harassment by stalking.
"Cody wanted to put the past behind him and focus on the future and that's what he's done. It's been a difficult time for obviously him and his family and he's taken these concrete steps and moved forward with his life," said his attorney, David Hayakawa.
The victim, now 13, and her mother are relieved with the agreement which spares the girl from having to testify at a trial.
Under the plea agreement, Onizuka will avoid jail time, but will he will be convicted felon. His sentencing is scheduled for July 25.