Teen charged with sexual assault of 78-year-old

KEALAKEKUA — An 18-year-old man made his initial court appearance Monday on charges in connection with a sexual assault of a 78-year-old woman at a South Kohala campground.

Zeth Browder, of no permanent address, faces 15 charges stemming from the attack that occurred Saturday at Spencer Beach Park in Kawaihae.

His bail was set at $227,000.

According to police, South Kohala patrol officers responded to a call for service about 6 a.m. Saturday at the campground where they contacted a 78-year-old Pahoa woman who reported she was sexually assaulted by a man who was also camping in the area. The parties were not camping together.

Police located and arrested Browder and transported him to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigation Division continued their investigation.

On Sunday morning, investigators charged Browder with five counts of first-degree sexual assault, three counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, three counts of third-degree sexual assault, as well as burglary, assault, kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence.

On Monday, Browder appeared before Kona District Judge Margaret Masunaga for his initial appearance. Deputy Public Defender Ann Datta argued for reduced bail based on Browder’s indigent status, but Masunaga maintained Browder’s bail at $227,000.

Datta then requested a mental competency exam for her client, which was granted.

Browder’s next court appearance was scheduled for July 16 in South Kohala.

Those who might have information about the incident are asked to contact Detective Calvin Delaries at 326-4646, ext. 304, or via email at calvin.delaries@hawaiicounty.gov.

Email Laura Ruminski at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.

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