Guard Sues Colleague and OCCC Over Alleged Sexual Harassment

By Chad Blair


A female prison guard accepted a social media “friend” request from a male colleague only to receive naked pictures of the man and a request for sex minutes later, according to a lawsuit filed in First Circuit Court in Honolulu Aug. 9.

The lawsuit accuses Tahn Kakaio, an adult correctional officer at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, of sexual harassment and other charges, including sexual assault, over an eight-month period.

It also blames the Department of Public Safety for not taking action to end the hostile work environment and for “negligent hiring.”

Joseph Rosenbaum, an attorney for the plaintiff who identified his client only as “Jane Doe” to protect her identity — told Civil Beat Thursday that this is not the first time the department has received complaints about Kakaio.

“We understand another female sent similar complaints,” said Rosenbaum, who accused the guard of harassing the wives of other adult correctional officers.

Kakaio could not be reached for comment.

Toni Schwartz, the public information officer for the department, which administers OCCC, said in an email Thursday, “We have not been served the lawsuit and have been advised to reserve comment until it has been served [and] our attorneys have had a chance to look it over and until we see what happens with the pending litigation.”

Rosenbaum said he expected the department to be served later this week.

Troubled Institution

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of serious problems plaguing OCCC, with many occurring just this year.

Earlier this month, a former inmate alleged in a different lawsuit that a guard drugged and molested her and took photos of the incident. On Sept. 6, an inmate imprisoned for assault was mistakenly released a week before his term was up.

In August it was reported that two OCCC guards faced a criminal trial over the alleged beating of an inmate. That same month an escaped inmate turned himself in.

In a one-month period in the spring, there were also three inmate suicides, which led DPS Director Ted Sakai to say there is a “crisis on our hands”.

Most embarrassing of all may have been the escape of a prisoner who was awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges in February. That sparked a massive manhunt for the fugitive in the heart of downtown.

Speaking specifically of the escape, Sakai told lawmakers at an April hearing on the problems at OCCC, “Many lessons were learned on this one.”

Judging from the most recent lawsuit, there may be several more lessons yet to come.

‘Violated and Disgusted’

The female plaintiff in the lawsuit, 34, began working at OCCC in July 2012. According to the lawsuit, Kakaio sent her a Facebook “friend” request two months later and asked her to call or text him on his cell phone.

The female ACO accepted the friend request and, according to the lawsuit, that triggered a series of sexually explicit texts and photos that continued.

The plaintiff also learned, she said, that another female ACO was also receiving similar messages from Kakaio.

The plaintiff sent an internal report to DPS March 30 and sought counseling for “extreme emotional distress.” Her boyfriend also broke up with her because he couldn’t handle the situation, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiff is also accusing Kakaio of sexual assault and invasion of privacy. Unspecific “exemplary or punitive” damages are sought.

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