Kauai sex offender sentenced to 10 years in prison

Joseph Costa Rita

A 73-year-old convicted sex offender was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday.

Joseph Costa Rita, of Kalaheo, was convicted of third-degree sexual assault for assaulting a minor under the age of 14 for failing to comply with covered offender requirements.

In court, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Arin said Rita had betrayed the trust of the 13-year-old minor 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 urged the court to impose the consecutive sentences, emphasizing that it had taken Rita less than a year to commit this sexual offense 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 with the state’s position for 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.

“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. We thank the Judge and our partners at KPD for their work and our thoughts are with Mr. Costa Rita’s victims,” Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said.

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