Caldwell mom will testify that husband abused children
Caldwell man accused of beating and terrorizing adopted children, molesting 13-year-old girl.
BY KRISTIN RODINE
While her husband watched impassively from the sidelines Friday, Kaylynn Gaunavinaka tearfully admitted standing by while he abused their adopted children over a two-year period.
Gaunavinaka, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of felony injury to a child in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges that she injured the couple's other two children. She agreed to be a witness against her husband, and prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence that could limit her prison time to a few months, followed by probation.
Her husband, 35-year-old Kekoa Gaunavinaka, is accused of systematically beating and abusing the couple's three adopted children and sexually molesting the oldest child, now 13. He faces three charges of felony injury to a child, plus a felony charge of lewd conduct with a child. He also faces an earlier related charge of kidnapping/custodial interference and has been in jail since late April.
A few weeks after his arrest the 13-year-old girl gave a statement to investigators, alleging almost daily abuse. She said she had been afraid to say anything until her father was out of the house.
The teen told authorities her father brutally spanked her and her two younger brothers for hours at a time, breaking boat paddles on their bottoms and hitting them with such items as a plastic pipe or a metal curtain rod. She said he held her head under water in the bathtub and on another occasion left shoe marks on her face when he kicked and stepped on her. He sometimes threatened to kill the children, she said. "He tried controlling everybody by beating us," the girl said.
She said her adoptive mother knew of the abuse and did nothing, sometimes saying "good for you" when her father told her what he had done.
"She didn't ever protect me (or the boys), and I wanted her to," the girl said.
All three children are now living with other family members, Deputy Canyon County Prosecutor Erica Kallin said.
Third District Judge Bradly Ford agreed to release Kaylynn Gaunavinaka until sentencing, on condition that she live with her sister and have no contact with her children. She had been in the Canyon County jail since late June, when she was indicted by a Canyon County grand jury.
Ford will not be bound by the attorneys' plea deal, which calls for him to retain jurisdiction of the woman's case while she is evaluated in the prison system for several months. If she receives a positive report after that incarceration, she could be released on probation.
Kekoa Gaunavinaka also was scheduled for a hearing Friday, but that session was delayed until Oct. 8. Attorneys seek to consolidate the charges against him into one case.