A 21-year-old transgender woman from Hawaii was doing court-ordered community service when her supervisor, a city worker, asked her for sexual favors in exchange for an early dismissal, according to nearly 30 minutes of recordings the woman secretly made using Facebook Live.
On July 22, Makana Milho was serving the fifth day of a six-day sentence for a theft charge by cleaning park bathrooms in Honolulu. During her shift, her male supervisor allegedly began touching her inappropriately and propositioned her for sexual favors, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“I decided to record the video after he touched my butt and told me no one would believe me because I’m a felon,” Milho told The Huffington Post. (Doing community service would have taken the felony charge off her record, she said.) “I was scared and knew he was right. I could have been raped or killed and feared for my life. When I could, I took out my phone and started to record.”
Last week, police charged 47-year-old Harold Villanueva Jr. with fourth-degree sex assault, a misdemeanor. The parks department placed him on administrative leave without pay while it investigates Milho’s claims, The Daily Beast reported.
The department could not immediately be reached for comment.
Milho’s attorney, Myles Breiner, alleges that during the shift, the supervisor pinched and slapped Milho’s butt and tried to hold her hand. The supervisor then allegedly told Milho she could leave early if she performed sexual favors for him, which is when she decided to secretly record the conversation using Facebook’s Live feature.
Milho recorded nearly 30 minutes of conversation over three videos, but has since removed them from Facebook. The Huffington Post has reviewed the footage with her permission. Footage of part of the encounter is also available on YouTube. The clip, which HuffPost is including with Milho’s permission, contains some explicit language.
Milho said that Villanueva asked her inappropriate questions, including whether she was born a woman and about her breast size.
“I was uncomfortable but continued to answer them as I really didn’t know what to do,” she told HuffPost.
The first Facebook Live recording begins with Milho sitting alone in a park department vehicle. “So I’m doing my community service and this guy, he’s been propositioning me, asking me about my tits,” Milho says to the camera. “He’s coming soon, but I’m going to leave it online so you guys can see what he’s talking about. It’s disgusting.”
After her supervisor entered the car, Milho covered the camera as they drove through what she later called an isolated area, all while she recorded their conversation. Milho said she continued to engage in conversation because she didn’t want Villanueva to touch her or to get upset and she wanted to have proof that the harassment was happening.
Throughout the video, the supervisor can be heard admitting to propositioning and engaging in sexual acts with other women in the community service program, even saying that one woman complained about him to the Parks and Recreation Department. He also discusses the sexual favors he’d like from Milho, including oral sex.
At one point in the videos, Milho says she feels uncomfortable doing anything physical without a condom and suggests they go to her friend’s house to get one. Milho told HuffPost that she proposed this in hopes of forcing her supervisor to bring them to a more public and safer area.
“I never was in a situation like this [before] and said and did anything to keep me safe and to have proof,” she said. “I was scared, my power was stripped away from me, it’s the hardest thing I’ve dealt with in life.”
Although Villanueva is charged with a misdemeanor, Breiner believes that the sexual harassment charge should be classified as a felony instead because Milho was ordered by the court to do community service with the suspect as her supervisor, Hawaii News Now reported.
Breiner also believes that because Milho identifies as a transgender woman, the case isn’t being taken as seriously as it would if it involved two cisgender people.
“That’s one of the problems when dealing with the LGBTQ community,” Breiner told HuffPost. “Frankly, people who have very conservative views of gendered litigation tend to be dismissive of male-on-male, female-on-female or LGBTQ issues.”
Breiner added that Milho plans to file a civil rights claim against the city for the harassment she had to endure.
Milho eventually removed the videos from Facebook, she told The Daily Beast, because people were making fun of the situation and she wasn’t “comfortable being a punchline to something serious that happened.”
But despite the backlash, she is still receiving support from many who heard her story.
“People have sent me their personal stories and words of encouragement,” she said. “Because of them, I had the courage to take a stand and be strong during this difficult time.”
Villanueva is set to appear in court Aug. 17 for arraignment, according to Breiner. A spokesperson for the city of Honolulu told KITV that they are investigating the incident and will take “disciplinary action when violations occur.”