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Suspect in sex assault on plane rule incompetent

Updated: 
August 4, 2015 - 1:30am

The Hilo man who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman on a Japan Airlines flight was ruled incompetent to stand trial Monday in Honolulu federal court by Judge S.C. Chang.

Michael Tanouye, 29, is charged with interference with flight crew members and attendants and aggravated sexual abuse, by force or threat.

Defense attorney Richard H.S. Sing made a motion to judge him not fit to stand trial. After an evaluation on Jan. 16, he was declared incompetent to stand trail on Jan. 23. The hearing was continued until Monday, when he was “committed to the custody of the Attorney General an additional 120 days to see if he may be restored to Competency.”

The prosecution, by Larry L. Butrick, agreed with the treatment.

Tanouye allegedly forced the door in for a woman who was about to use the lavatory, the document said.

Airplane lavatories have locks, however, Tanouye allegedly forced the door open before the woman could shut the door.

He then locked it behind him, the report said, and removed the woman’s pants and underwear. He also removed his pants, the document said.

She pressed the emergency button at some point, the report said, and her mother, a flight attendant and several male passengers responded.

They got through the door in part by unscrewing hinges, the filing said, and removed Tanouye from the room.

The flight was about two hours out when the incident happened. The captain of the aircraft turned around and landed in Honolulu, where Tanouye was taken into custody.

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