Eval hiccup delays sex assault case

  • Justin Mariano appears at his mental fitness hearing Friday in Circuit Court. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — A doctor who changed his mind on a mental evaluation for a man indicted on six counts of sexual assault involving a minor stalled proceedings for another two months.

A mental fitness hearing was scheduled Friday in front of 3rd Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim for Justin Taylor Mariano, indicted in June by a Kona grand jury on six counts of sexual assault involving a minor.

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Three mental health professionals evaluated Mariano to determine if he was mentally fit to stand trial but on Friday Dr. Andrew Bisset told the court the report he submitted was flawed.

Bisset said he didn’t spend enough time with Mariano to establish a rapport. He also stated that the defendant’s mother was present during the evaluation.

“After careful consideration, I did not meet the standards of what the court expects of me,” said Bisset. “My report and conclusions are unreliable.”

Kim vacated the report calling the situation highly unusual.

Another psychiatrist will need to be found to conduct an evaluation before the case can continue.

A neuropsychological evaluation was also ordered.

A neuropsychological evaluation is an assessment of how one’s brain functions, which indirectly yields information about the structural and functional integrity of a brain.

Mariano, who was a high school student over the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offenses, was charged with one count of continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of 14, four counts first-degree sexual assault, and one count third-degree sexual assault.

The alleged assaults took place between November 2018 and February 2019, per the indictment. The victim’s family, whom West Hawaii Today is not identifying to protect the victim, said they happened on the Konawaena High School campus.

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Continuous sex assault of a minor and first-degree sex assault are class A felonies punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment. Third-degree sex assault is a class C felony that carries five years imprisonment, upon conviction.

Mariano is currently free on $20,000 bail. The next competency hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19.

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