Grandfather sentenced to 15 yrs for sex crimes against his 6 year old granddaughter
The high court sentenced a grandfather to 15 years in jail for sodomizing his granddaughter yesterday. The grandfather pled with the court for another chance to return to his family given that he has become unwell while living inside the Tafuna Correctional Facility.
In tears, the defendant apologized to the court, his church, his children, the victim and her mother for his wrongdoing. Samoa News is withholding the defendant’s name to protect the identity of the victim.
Sentencing was handed down by Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala, Jr. The grandfather was charged with sodomy, child molesting, rape, deviate sexual assault, sexual abuse first degree and endangering the welfare of a child.
However, in a plea deal with the government, the defendant entered a guilty plea to sodomy and deviate sexual assault while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.
Sodomy, which is a class B felony, is punishable by five to 15 years in jail while the deviate sexual assault a class C felony, is punishable by up to seven years in jail, a $5,000 fine or both.
The defendant’s pastor took the stand noting the defendant has been a member of his church for over four years. The Pastor pleaded with the court to allow the defendant a chance to be with his family.
Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop asked the pastor on his thoughts about the criminal charges the defendant has pleaded guilty to. The pastor responded that the defendant has been separated from his wife for a very long time and given that situation, he was tempted to do what he did. She tasked the pastor if he agreed that there are consequences if a man breaks God’s law and Man’s law, and the pastor agreed.
The victim’s mother took the stand and said that although her daughter has been victimized, she has forgiven the defendant for what he did and asked the court to close this case.
The defendant’s lawyer Assistant Public Defender Mike White said obviously the crimes his client has committed and pled guilty to “...are terrible, horrible and disgusting acts he committed. However the defendant has acknowledged his remorse the first time they met up”.
The Assistant PD added the defendant lived an exemplary life up until the time he chose to commit these acts with a child. “I don’t understand why a man in the twilight of his life chose to commit a crime at this point of the journey of his life… needless to say he did commit a crime.”
White asked the court to fashion a sentence for the defendant in this matter, and Deputy AG Jessop said, “this is definitely a case where I do not envy the court in the position you are in now.”
Jessop acknowledged that the defendant has admitted he’s guilty however… “the fact remains that the victim in this case is a six-year old, any society’s greatest resources is their children, and now we have a six-year old who’s going to be marked for the rest of her life.”
She noted there are studies that show these types of situations remain with the victims for a very long time.
Jessop said although the defendant has apologized on numerous times for his actions it is unfortunate that his apologies fall short, there is no way he can right the wrong he did.
She added that his pastor testified that when man breaks God and man’s laws there are consequences.
She commended the victim’s mother for her boldness in coming forth and being the proper Samoan woman who has respect for the elderly.
Jessop recommended the court sentence the defendant to the maximum allowable under the law given that the victim in this matter is a six year-old child.
For the sodomy charge the defendant was sentenced to 15 years in jail, and for the deviate sexual assault he was sentenced to seven years and given the defendant’s age, Richmond said his sentence will be served concurrently.
Richmond said it’s clear the defendant’s action towards the girl was carried out for over a period of months. The defendant was also ordered to register as a sex offender and undergo HIV testing as required by the law.
According to the government’s case, the sexual incidents between the 64-year old man and the minor began in August 2011 with the latest incident January 6, 2012.