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Keith Matsumoto

Other Hawaii exonerations
At about 12:30 p.m. on June 9, 2012, 54-year-old Keith Matsumoto, a coordinator for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, was arrested during a wrestling tournament at Farrington High School on the island of Oahu, Hawaii after he was accused of improperly touching a 14-year-old girl who was a participant in the competition.

He was subsequently indicted in the Circuit Court for the First Circuit on a charge of three-degree sexual assault.

Prior to trial, Matsumoto moved to suppress statements he made during and after a polygraph examination conducted after he was arrested. Matsumoto’s attorney, David Hayakawa, argued that because polygraph results are inadmissible, he would not be able to explain the basis and context of his statements made during the post-test interrogation—therefore, the statements should be suppressed. He further argued that the detective who administered the polygraph test had falsely told Matsumoto that he failed. Under Hawaii law, Hayakawa said, a falsehood that is extrinsic or not part of the facts of the case is considered coercive and renders the ensuing statement inadmissible.

The judge ruled that the results of the examination were not admissible at trial, but Matsumoto’s statements made after the examination were admissible. The court also ruled that the detective’s statement that Masumoto did not pass was not a falsehood because it was technically true that he did not get a passing result.

Masumoto subsequently filed a motion arguing the that fact that he took a polygraph and was told he did not pass should be allowed as evidence. Otherwise, the jury would not know the context in which Matsumoto made his statements, including that his statements were motivated by his false belief that he had failed the polygraph.

The judge ruled there was to be no mention of the word “polygraph” or the word “test.” And the detective would only be allowed to say that he made a statement to Matsumoto that was not “totally true.”

In January 2014, Matsumoto went to trial. The girl testified that Matsumoto touched her twice that day. She said she was getting pre-match paperwork when Matsumoto bumped into her and his hand slid across her buttocks. At the time, she thought it was an accident.

Later, while the girl was providing tips to one of her friends, Matsumoto walked up behind and began talking “about wrestling stuff” as he massaged her shoulders and touched her abdomen. When she tried to leave, she said, Matsumoto slapped and grabbed her buttocks with both hands. At that point, she went to her father and reported what happened.

William Ullom, a volunteer wrestling coach at Radford High School, testified that he saw Matsumoto “inappropriately touch” the girl by grabbing her buttocks and moving his hands to her groin and down the sides of her back. Ullom said that the girl acted distraught and left. Ullom had had two prior run-ins with Matsumoto. In one, Matsumoto opposed allowing a wrestler to participate because the wrestler had not obtained a doctor’s note allowing him to wrestle. In the other, one of Ullom’s students was temporarily prevented from participating for failing to weigh in.

Honolulu police Detective Allan Kuaana testified that he interrogated Matsumoto for three and a half hours. When Matsumoto denied touching the girl, Kuaana said, he switched to a “direct confrontation technique,” during which he provided some information that was “not completely accurate.” However, he said that interrogators are permitted to use deception within certain guidelines.

Ultimately, Matsumoto said that the girl had been crouched down and he had patted and grabbed her buttocks. Detective Kim McCumsey testified that she watched and listened to the interrogation through a viewing window. She said that Matsumoto admitted to “grabbing” the girl’s buttocks when she was bent over by a wrestling mat watching one of her friends. McCumsey said she then interrogated Matsumoto.

McCumsey testified that Matsumoto made statements about not remembering how any touching could have happened, but that he must have done so. She said that when she tried to “lock him in” to “commit to something,” he said, “I’m not gonna say I didn’t. But if anything, I would characterize it as a ‘good job’ pat on the butt.” McCumsey said she asked if the reason he touched the girl was “bad judgment” and Matsumoto said it was “weakness.” She said that he demonstrated a slapping-type motion, not a grabbing motion.

Darren Reyes, head coach for the Farrington wrestling team, testified for the defense that he was the site director and host for the tournament. He said that during the tournament, he coached the girl on a wrestling move and she never said anything about being inappropriately touched. Reyes said she appeared “jolly” and “cheerful” at a point after the touching allegedly had occurred.

Corey Taniguchi, a volunteer coach, testified that he was standing near the girl when the second touching allegedly occurred. He said he saw nothing unusual. In addition, a student who refereed the match when the second incident occurred said he did not see Matsumoto touch the girl at any time.

Matsumoto testified that his daughter was a wrestler and that he and his two daughters went to Farrington to volunteer to help during the wrestling tournament. He said they arrived around 10:30 a.m. He first saw the girl at the scoring table standing next to one of his daughters. He said he just said “hi” to her. He said that he was arrested at 12:30 p.m. and kept in a cell overnight. He said detectives McCumsey and Kuaana interrogated him for several hours.

In response to the first alleged touching, he said he was focused on coaching, did not interact with the girl, and had no physical contact with her. As for the second incident, he said he made a “good job pat on the butt and not a grab.”

Matsumoto testified that Detective Kuaana said that the case might not proceed if he gave the police something, apologized, and quit coaching. Masumoto also said Kuaana told him that if he did not tell police what he did, he would spend another night in the cell. If he admitted something, they could try to “work something out.”

Matsumoto said that based on the “misleading or inaccurate information” that Kuaana gave him, Matsumoto began to doubt his memory. He denied saying he grabbed the girl’s buttocks, but acknowledged it was possible that he may have touched her. Matsumoto said that what he told McCumsey were examples of how touching may have occurred.

On February 4, 2014, the jury found Matsumoto guilty of third-degree sexual assault. He was sentenced to six months in jail followed by 4½ years of probation and 150 hours of community service.

In August 2017, the Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii upheld the conviction and rejected his argument that he should have been allowed to present the testimony relating to the polygraph examination and Kuaana’s statement that Matsumoto had failed the test.

Matsumoto’s attorney, Hayakawa, appealed that ruling. In October 2019, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial. The court held that Kuaana had engaged in “deliberate falsehoods” and that these deceptions were extrinsic to the facts of the allegations.

The court held that the interrogation was therefore coercive and that Matsumoto’s statements during the interrogation should not have been allowed in evidence.

In addition, Masumoto should have been allowed to introduce evidence relating to the circumstances leading up to his statements. The court said that the trial court’s decision “to preclude Matsumoto from adducing evidence that his post-polygraph test statements were induced by Det. Kuaana, including that he did not pass the polygraph test, severely compromised Matsumoto’s constitutional right to a fair trial…and to present a complete defense.”

The court also ruled that the trial court had given erroneous instructions to the jury that “intimate parts” within the meaning of “sexual contact” under the sexual assault statute meant the buttocks. The court said that the buttocks “may be” an intimate part provided that the conduct was associated with sexual connotations or sexual relations.

The court quoted from a 2010 decision which noted that “with respect to the buttocks, it is not uncommon for youth team coaches to give their players a congratulatory pat on the buttocks in recognition of a good play or outstanding effort. Parents hugging or carrying a young child may also place their hands on the child’s buttocks….But because of the context, it would be unreasonable to regard the child’s buttocks as an ‘intimate part’ for purposes of applying the sexual assault statutes.”

On May 21, 2020, the charge was dismissed. Matsumoto had long since completed his six-month jail term.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/7/2020
Last Updated: 12/7/2020
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2012
Sentence:6 months
Age at the date of reported crime:54
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No