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Court Report

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GRANDFATHER CHARGED IN CASE INVOLVING GRAND-DAUGHTER

A grandfather accused of touching his 13-year old grand daughter in a sexual manner over a period of time, appeared yesterday in District Court, where he is charged with three felony charges and one misdemeanor.

To protect the minor victim, Samoa News is not identifying the defendant or the village where the alleged crime occurred.

The defendant is charged with one count each of sodomy — a class B felony punishable by five to 15 years; deviate sexual assault — a class C felony, punishable by up to seven years in jail, a $5,000 fine or both; and sexual abuse in the first degree — a class D felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine or both.

The grandfather is also charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of $1,000 or both.

Police investigated the case on Mar. 1 this year, and the victim told an investigator that she shares a bed with her grandfather. And starting December 2010, in their bed, the defendant began touching the victim in a sexual manner, the government alleges.

The victim also told police that since that day back in December, the defendant continued to touch her in the same sexual manner until February this year, the government alleges.

The government further claims that the victim told police that the touching began over her clothing but as time went on, the defendant started to touch her genitals under her clothes. The victim also told police that when the defendant touched her genitals, she was scared and would sometimes pretend to be asleep.

The victim eventually reported the matter to her school counselor, who questioned her about a prolonged absence from school. Not mentioned specifically in court documents is whether or not it was the school counselor who reported the matter to police.

Bail for the defendant is set at $30,000 and he returns today for another court hearing.

SIAMUPENI LEFAOSEU

The High Court last Friday sentenced Siamupeni Lefaoseu to time already served after taking into consideration mitigating factors, which were in the defendant’s favor.

Lefaoseu, 18, pled guilty recently under a plea agreement with the government to second degree assault in connection with the incident where he used a machete to attack another person, who was hit in the arm.

Prior to sentencing, both sides presented verbal sentencing recommendations and arguments, which were then taken into consideration by the court, in fashioning a sentence for the defendant, who spent about six weeks in pre trial confinement.

In a previous hearing for this case, the government stated that the defendant’s family performed the traditional ceremony of seeking forgiveness (ifoga) to the victim’s family, which was accepted. The government further states that the defendant’s family was also penalized by the Faleniu Village Council because of the incident.

This information, along with the fact that the families of the defendant and the victim have mended fences and this case has come to a peaceful conclusion, was also a mitigating factor for the defendant.

The court also heard testimony from the victim, who stated that he has forgiven the defendant, who was then sentenced to three years probation. The six weeks in pre trial confinement was considered sufficient jail time.

One condition of probation is that the defendant attends and completes anger management counseling. He is also not to commit any crime during the probation period.

Court filings state that the defendant assaulted the victim with a machete after he learned the victim was one of the men who beat up the defendant’s younger brother.

(Samoan version of this story is in Tala o Faamasinoga” in Le Lali section.)

ARTHUR ‘AFA’ BLAKE

The High Court has set June 15 as the sentencing date for Arthur ‘Afa’ Blake after he pled guilty yesterday to second degree assault, under a plea agreement with the government. The plea agreement was accepted by the court and the misdemeanor public peace disturbance charge was dismissed.

The charge against Blake stems from an incident in December 2010 in which the defendant tried to assault another person with a machete during a volleyball game. The defendant remains in custody unable to post bail.

(Samoan version of this story is in Tala o Faamasinoga” in Le Lali section.)



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