Honolulu police arrested a man on suspicion of fourth-degree sex assault.
On Wednesday, Aug. 2, at approximately 4:40 p.m., the victim was on the city bus in Windward Oahu, when the suspect began conversing with her.
The victim began to feel uncomfortable, got off the bus at Windward Mall, and went into the mall.
The suspect also got off the bus, followed the victim into the mall, and sexually assaulted her. The victim fled into a store and notified an employee, who then notified security.
The victim later went back to the bus stop and boarded the bus with a friend. The suspect also followed the victim onto the bus and began to converse with her.
The victim informed the suspect that she was going to the police station to report the incident, got off the bus fronting Castle Medical Center, and notified police.
On Tuesday, Dec. 5, one day after a CrimeStoppers bulletin was issued, police arrested PN Meikei, 30, in Kalihi.
He was booked shortly after noon and charged with fourth-degree sex assault. His bail was set at $2,000.
We asked police why it took so long to ask the public for help.
“The investigators were working on leads. It was a process obtaining videos, trying to speak to mall authorities, witnesses,” explained Sgt. Chris Kim with CrimeStoppers.
Last week, police arrested a different suspect in a different case.
On Nov. 21, that suspect allegedly tried to solicit a victim for sex on TheBus.
The victim refused and got off the bus at the next stop, but police say the suspect followed and grabbed her. She was able to fight him off and call police.
Paul Rodriguez, 25, was arrested on Friday, Dec. 1., and charged Monday, Dec. 4, with third-degree sex assault.
While the cases sound similar, police say they are unrelated.
Authorities encourage anyone who feels uncomfortable to speak up.
“Even though they’re on a tight schedule, (this is an) important issue that needs to be addressed, and we need to understand it’s all about public safety,” Kim said. “We want riders to feel safe on TheBus, so we want to remind public don’t ever be afraid and feel free to notify the driver of what’s going on.”
After this latest incident, Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi says something needs to be done.
“It’s getting worse and we have to do something about it, because these young women, they’re getting to school and getting to work using the bus, and we don’t want them to be afraid or think, ‘Now what do I do? What other form of transportation is there?'” she said.
As it stands now, people can’t be banned from riding the bus for any reason, but Oahu Transit Services president Roger Morton says he wants to look into making a change.
“We don’t want to suspend anyone. I want our bus system to be a system that is open for everybody in our society, but we want to have the power administratively, if we have a pattern of bad behavior, that we could take away your right to it, for a period time, to ride the bus,” he said.
As for the recent incidents of sexual assault by bus passengers, Morton says it’s a concern.
“These latest incidents are a great concern for us. The last two incidents that were reported on CrimeStoppers did not occur on the bus. They occurred after someone got off the bus and was followed, but regardless of that, the public has to have confidence in our transit system being safe,” Morton said.
Kobayashi says she is ready to work with TheBus to come up with ideas about how to keep bus riders safe.
“There are cameras on the bus, but I don’t know what we can do to make the bus safer,” she said. “We certainly have to do something, because the problem is not getting better.”
A bill making its way through the city council wants to ban loitering at bus stops.
Bill 99 would make it illegal for someone to lie down in a bus stop area between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m. the next day.
Anyone caught breaking the ban would be fined up to $50.
The bill has already passed its second reading.