Salinda’s Sentence Mocks Justice

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - September 08, 2010

The recent one-year sentence of a former Hawaii deputy sheriff convicted of sexually molesting his young niece is outrageous and exposes the judicial disservice delivered to victims of sexual crimes.

What kind of community would stand for a system that favors the perpetrator and punishes the victim?

Ours, apparently.

Edwin Salinda, 56, is the personification of the darkness found in humanity. As a law-enforcement officer, Salinda enjoyed the immediate respect and trust his badge afforded him. That’s why the nature of his crime is even more despicable. The general public is taught to trust officers of the law. But a family without hesitation and condition gives an uncle trust freely. So, Salinda not only deceived the citizens of the state with his masquerade of enforcing the law, but he added insult to injury since he was committing heinous crimes against his own family.

Salinda exploited this misplaced trust and it afforded him complete and unfettered access to his prey - his own niece. His victim was the daughter of either his sister or his brother. Can you imagine that for just a moment? It’s difficult enough to contemplate a complete stranger targeting you or your loved one for a crime, but a sexual offense by your own ohana? That’s just evil.

Salinda began his exploitation and violation of his victim when she was in first grade. That’s about 6 years old. When is the last time you looked into the face of a 6-year-old child? If it’s been awhile, rest assured that you will find the eyes of innocence, a vibrant energy that only youth can exude and a trusting affection that is easily given and gratefully received.

This perverted offender stole all of that and more from this little girl, all for his own sick and twisted gratification. Not once, but over and over again. Each time Salinda would approach her, one can only imagine the sheer terror this little girl must have experienced. The pain. The humiliation. Tragically, as the assaults continued, who could she turn to for salvation? Her mother? Her father? Her auntie? Her uncle? Obviously not. And it’s that isolation coupled with hopelessness that will leave one of many indelible scratches on her psyche.

Any victim’s advocate should be the law enforcement and judicial system. In this particular case, the prosecution accepted a plea deal that could have sent Salinda to prison for up to 10 years. Instead, the deal got Salinda a sentence of one year in jail and five years’ probation. The rationale is that the victim would not have to take the stand.

There is something sickening about our process that rewards an admitted sexual abuser of a child while the victim is issued a life sentence of vivid memories that are played out day after day.

This story is filled with frustration, anger, sadness and a litany of other emotions. It’s incumbent upon those with the combination of expertise and decency who lead the way in ensuring that such travesties of justice no longer continue.

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