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IN THE HIGH COURT: Rapist receives 12-year sentence

reporters@samoanews.com

A father who had an on-going sexual relationship with his 16-year old step-daughter has been sentenced to prison for 12 years - straight. Sentencing was handed down by Associate Justice Lyle Richmond who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr. yesterday in High Court.

To protect the victim on these types of domestic and sexual violence cases, Samoa News does not identify the defendant. The 49-year old step-father was initially charged with rape, incest, deviated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Last year December the defendant pled guilty to rape and endangering the welfare of a child, while the remaining charges were dismissed. The rape charge, a class B felony is punishable from five to 15 years in jail; endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, is punishable for up to one year, a fine of $1,000 or both.

The sexual relationship occurred between the defendant and his step-daughter from January to June, 2011.

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau recommended the maximum penalty for the step-father, noting that he had had an ongoing sexual relationship with his step-daughter. Folau, who did not mince words, noted the seriousness of the crime.

“The government finds the defendant’s on-going sexual relationship with his 16-year old step-daughter disturbing and the government is asking to sentence the defendant to the full extent of the law,” she said.

“This is a reflection of working parents who supposedly leave the children to those who are supposed to protect them, and yet this happens... we have to protect our children”, said Folau.

The defendant implored the judges, requesting leniency.

In addressing the court the defendant said he is full of for remorse of his actions and has apologized to his church, family, government and to God. He told the court that his incarceration has taught him a huge lesson, because this has brought him closer to God and he has had more time to read the Holy Scripture.

The defendant then recited from the book of Romans 7: 12, where it says the law is for sinners, not for the righteous.

He commended the Department of Public Safety and Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau for their hard work in serving and protecting the community.

The defendant was represented by Public Defender Ruth Risch-Fuatagavi, who said her client’s remorse is genuine. She also said that he has been employed for most of his adult life and has taken full responsibility for his actions.

“This is a very serious matter... an aggravating case”, said Associate Justice Richmond.

For the rape charge, the defendant was sentenced to 12 years and for endangering the welfare of a child he is to be jailed for one year, however Richmond said these sentences are to run concurrently, meaning the defendant will only serve 12 years. The seven and a half months the defendant has already served in jail will be credited to the 12 years.

The judge ordered the defendant’s name to be registered as a sex offender, and he was  ordered to undergo HIV testing at LBJ hospital.

According to the government’s case, it was the victim’s older brother who caught the defendant in the act and reported the case to authorities.

During the defendant’s plea agreement hearing, when questioned by the court, the defendant admitted to having sexual intercourse with the victim. He said he couldn’t resist the evil temptation.



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