HONOLULU – Soon after arriving at Honolulu Federal Detention Center after trying to rape a woman in an airplane bathroom, Michael Tanouye was put into a cell with an inmate and beat him up.
That inmate, identified in court papers only by his initials, was Benjamin Bishop, a former civilian defense contractor convicted of divulging military secrets to his Chinese girlfriend.
"The facility knew or should have known what occurred on the plane and that (Tanouye) was mentally unstable," Bishop's attorney, Joseph Rosenbaum, said Thursday. Bishop, scheduled to be released in 2020 from a low-security federal correctional facility in Pennsylvania, is pursuing legal action for the 2014 assault, Rosenbaum said.
Bishop, who has a lanky frame, didn't stand a chance against a much younger and stockier Tanouye, who was prone to violence, Rosenbaum said.
Honolulu Federal Detention Center spokesman Jeffrey Greene declined to comment.
A judge found Tanouye not guilty by reason of insanity on Wednesday for both the airplane and prison assaults. Doctors concluded Tanouye, of Hilo, Hawaii, suffers from severe mental illness and that he didn't know what he was doing was wrong at the time.
The flight was en route to Kansai International Airport on Oct. 11, 2014, when Tanouye forced his way into a bathroom and sexually assaulted a woman, according to an FBI affidavit. The woman, who was returning home to Japan with her mother after a four-day vacation in Hawaii, went to use the restroom about an hour and 45 minutes after takeoff.
While struggling with Tanouye the woman was able to push the bathroom's emergency button. The woman's mother, the flight attendants and other passengers tried to open the lavatory door, but they were unable to because Tanouye was blocking the door, the affidavit said. They had to open the door by removing screws from its hinges.
The captain of the plane decided to turn around after hearing it took three passengers to keep Tanouye calm.
Authorities took Tanouye to Honolulu Federal Detention Center, and, according to court documents, the assault against Bishop took place the next day.
The attack on Bishop was unprovoked, Rosenbaum said. The beating stopped when Bishop promised not to push the cell's panic button. When Bishop asked Tanouye why he was beating him up, his response was that he believed Bishop was the devil, Rosenbaum said.
Bishop was taken to the hospital with numerous injuries, including an eye that was swollen shut.
"(Tanouye) should have been on suicide and homicide watch," Rosenbaum said. "He should have been watched."
Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/JenHapa. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jennifer-sinco-kelleher.