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Man charged with statutory rape, sexual assault of 14-year old cousin

A 21-year-old man from Samoa has been charged with sexually related counts on allegations he had an ongoing sexual relationship with his 14-year-old female cousin.

The District Court has denied bail for the defendant, who has been in jail since last week Friday.

Samoa News will not name the defendant, in order to protect the identity of the victim in this matter. The defendant made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning, on charges of rape, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

The statutory rape charge alleges the defendant had sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 years old, which is a class B felony punishable by imprisonment for five to 15 years. Sexual assault is a class C felony punishable by up to seven years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both, while endangering the welfare of a child is a class A misdemeanor, punishable up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

According to the government’s case, it was reported to the Criminal Investigation Division that a 14-year-old had been impregnated by her cousin and they were living together in the same house.

 It’s alleged on Nov. 23, 2012 police met with a man who reported that he had heard rumors the victim was pregnant and the father is her cousin.

He further told police, that he had noticed the victim’s belly begin to get bigger, an indication that she’s pregnant. The man told police he was summoned by his Chief (matai), who is his uncle, who told him that the victim is pregnant by the defendant and they live in the same house.

Court filings state the investigating officer, Detective G.L Seanoa, met with the 14-year-old on the same day, where she was interviewed in the presence of her grandmother. 

The grandmother told police that their family has already discussed the matter with their matai, and the victim denied having sex with the defendant. The grandmother further told police that the victim told them that she has a boyfriend that she met in March 2012 and they had sex many times from March to June 2012.

 However the boyfriend has since left the territory for Alaska.

When police notified Social Services about the incident, the social worker told police the victim had just confessed that she had  engaged in a sexual relationship with the defendant.

It's alleged police picked up the victim and interviewed her again, where she admitted that she had originally denied a sexual relationship with the defendant because it is a disgrace, given that they are related.

The victim told police, she and her cousin started to engage in a sexual relationship in June 2012 and the first time they had sex was when she went into the defendant’s room and talked with him.

She said the defendant moved closer and asked her to remove her shorts which she did and they immediately had sex. She said they had sex many times after that in the defendant’s room at night when the family was sleeping.

Court filings state the victim also told police she had sexual intercourse with her boyfriend from March to May 2012, until he left for Alaska.

The victim told police she realized she was pregnant in July when she missed her monthly period and she and the defendant stopped having sex when she told the defendant about her pregnancy.

Police questioned the defendant regarding the matter and he admitted that he had sex with the victim because he loved her. “I apologize to the police for what happened but I slept with (her), because I love her,” say court filings.

The defendant further admitted to police that they had sex on numerous occasions from June through August 2012. The government claims the defendant’s mother is the victim’s step- father’s sister. 

The defendant is scheduled to re-appear in the District Court today, to determine if he’s going to exercise his right to a preliminary examination hearing where District Court Judge John Ward will determine if the government has sufficient evidence to have this case bound over to High Court.

The defendant is represented by Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley while prosecuting this  matter is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde.