Gay rights activist Leon Rouse keeps landing on his feet, thanks to a handful of Hawaii lawmakers — all from Hawaii’s majority party — who appear to have a soft spot for the convicted sex offender.
Currently, Rouse, who has always maintained he is innocent of sexual misconduct, is employed as a committee clerk by the chair of the Senate Health Committee, Roz Baker, a Democrat from Maui.
Rouse was serving as the office manager for freshman Rep. Rida Cabanilla, D-Waipahu, when he became the focus of a series of high-profile news reports during the 2005 legislative session.
Several lawmakers, including Democrat Sen. Brian Kanno, had attempted to coerce Norwegian Cruise Lines into paying off Rouse after he was reportedly fired for sexual harassment — even though Rouse had previously been convicted and served 8 years in prison in the Philippines for having sex with an underage boy.
The news reports about Rouse kept coming during the 2005 Legislative session. Hawaii voters learned several lawmakers aggressively lobbied and threatened Norwegian Cruise Lines with legislation requiring the company to pay additional taxes, if Rouse was not compensated.
Kanno asked his colleagues, both House and Senate elected officials, to sign a letter demanding that the company rehire Rouse or pay him restitution and travel expenses. The letter dated Aug. 24, 2004, to Norwegian Cruise Line, was signed by Democrat Senators Kanno, Baker, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Brian Taniguchi and Carol Fukunaga — all chairs of their respective committees. In addition, House Chairs Roy Takumi, Kenneth Hiraki and Eric Hamakawa signed the letter.
Kanno also introduced a resolution requiring the cruise line to detail its sexual harassment policy, and demanded that the state Department of Taxation consider mandating the cruise line pay Hawaii