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Sex offender ordered to leave island

reporters@samoanews.com

Sexual offender Malake Gauta was sentenced to 28 months in jail, by Chief Justice Michael Kruse, following his guilty plea last month to charges of deviate sexual assault.

Gauta initially was facing statutory rape, deviate sexual assault, first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He pled guilty to deviate sexual assault and the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

The deviate sexual assault count is a class C felony which is punishable with up to seven years in jail, a fine up to a $5,000 or both.

Gauta apologized to the government, the court and his family for what had occurred which landed him before the court.

The defendant pleaded with the court for another chance so he could return to his family, to care for his mother and siblings. Gauta’s apology concluded with noting how remorseful he is and that his time in jail has taught him a huge lesson.

Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin who represented the defendant told the court, Gauta is from Samoa and his immigration status is illegal. “While in the territory his father passed away and his entire family moved back to Samoa”.  Cardin noted the defendant has been in custody for nine months.

She added the defendant had consensual sexual intercourse with an underage girl, however as an adult he should have conducted himself accordingly. Cardin recommended that the defendant be placed on probation.

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau told the court that the victim in this matter is a 15 year old girl, while the defendant is 30 years of age.  Folau said she moves to adopt what was in the probated sentenced, and that given the defendant’s age, he should have known better than to have a sexual relationship with a girl half his age.  “The incidents did not occur once but on several occasions” she said.

The Deputy AG told the court that the government does not oppose a probated sentence, however some jail time should be served for this matter.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse said the court took into account, submission by the parties, the probation report and the defendant’s apology.

Kruse sentenced the defendant to seven years in jail with execution of sentencing suspended. Gauta was placed on probation under the condition that he serve 28 months in jail. Kruse added that all but 12 months would be stayed given that the proper documentation is ready for him to depart the territory and remain outside American Samoa during his probation period.

Gauta is only to be released from jail and transported to the airport or the wharf by the Warden.

Gauta was also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500, register as a sex offender, undergo testing for the HIV virus and be a law abiding citizen while in the territory.

The Chief Justice instructed the government to look into the immigration laws regarding the defendant's legal sponsor paying the fine as ordered by the court and also to look into the attorney fees for the Public Defender’s office who represented the defendant during his court proceedings.

According to the government’s case Gauta had a sexual relationship with the 15-year-old girl between July and September last year.

The government alleged the defendant would visit the girl at her home when she was alone. According to the government’s case the incident came to light when the girl's mother found the defendant in her house with her 15-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old niece.



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