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First man charged under 2010 stalking law strikes plea agreement

reporters@samoanews.com

The first man charged under the territory’s stalking law, which became effective in 2010, has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Tasesa Kuresa, 37 years old, was charged with attempted felonious restraint, endangering the welfare of a child, stalking, public peace disturbance and third degree assault.

However, the defendant struck a plea agreement with the government and pled guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, stalking and public peace disturbance which are all misdemeanors, while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

On the endangering the welfare of a child count, the defendant admits, through the plea agreement, that he knowingly acted in a manner that created a substantial risk to the life, body, or health of the victim — to wit, he repeatedly enticed the 14-year old victim to go with him in his car, which was also extremely inappropriate, given the age of the defendant and age of the victim.

For the stalking charge, the defendant admits that he was informed by the victim to leave her alone, however he continued to entice her to go with him to his car in a manner which was extremely inappropriate given the defendant’s age and the victim’s age, causing the victim to fear for her physical health and safety, as well as her mental and emotional health.

On the public peace disturbance charge, the defendant admits that he recklessly created the risk of public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm and he engaged in threatening behavior and created a hazardous or physically offensive condition by an act that served no legitimate purpose, by continuing to entice the victim to get into his car, while she was sitting at a public bus stop, an act which scared her; and it should have been apparent to the defendant that she did not wish to interact with him.

The plea deal was accepted by Chief Justice Michael Kruse who was accompanied on the bench by Chief Associate Judge Logoai and Associate Judge Fa’amausili Pomele.

The Chief Justice asked the defendant if the victim seemed scared when he approached her, and the defendant said yes.

Kruse also asked the defendant if morally, given his age, was what he did appropriate? The defendant replied “it is inappropriate for a 37-year old man to take a 14-year old in his car.”

The defendant was represented by Sharron Rancourt, while prosecuting was Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau.

Court filings state that on March 15, the victim was sitting at a bus stop in front of the LBJ Hospital Emergency Room and the defendant, who was driving an SUV,  slowed down and asked if she needed a ride.

The 14-year old girl said no and turned the other way, however the defendant parked his car and came and sat close to the girl. Court filing says Kuresa put his hand on the victim’s knee and rubbed up to her thigh.

It’s alleged while the victim was walking to the store at the intersection going into the hospital the defendant pulled up and again offered the victim a ride.  

The victim told police that when she refused the defendant parked his car and told her to get in his car, but the victim ignored him. Court filings say the defendant got out of his vehicle and came and sat next to her in front of the store. It’s alleged the defendant grabbed her hand and tried to pull her into the car but she pulled away and she stopped a bus and got on it. The police were able to track down the defendant with the vehicle license number the victim provided.

The defendant’s case was scheduled to go on trial yesterday before the High Court.



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