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Father pleads guilty to incest, rape and forcing pornography on daughter

reporters@samoanews.com

A father who had sex with his 11-year-old daughter and made her watch pornographic materials will be sentenced on Feb. 15, 2013 after entering into a plea agreement with the government.

Samoa News is withholding the defendant’s name to protect the identity of the victim in this matter. The 36-year-old defendant was initially charged with rape, deviate sexual assault, incest, escape from custody of police, resisting arrest, furnishing pornographic materials to a minor and endangering the welfare of a child.

However in a plea agreement with the government the defendant pleaded guilty to the following: rape, a class B felony, punishable from five to 15 years in jail; incest, a class D felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 or both; escape from custody, a class D felony punishable by up to five years, a fine of $5,000 or both; and furnishing pornographic materials, a class A misdemeanor punishable with up to one (1) year imprisonment, a fine of $1000 or both. 

The defendant is represented by Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin; and, prosecuting for the government is Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop.  

According to the plea agreement announced in open court on Monday, by the defendant’s plea of guilty he admits he was arrested and held at the Tafuna Correctional Facility on Aug. 6, 2011. He further admits he ran away from the jail and eluded police officers.

He also admits that he would make his 11-year-old daughter watch pornography and wanted her to perform what was happening in the movie. According to the plea the defendant understands, after advice from his court-appointed counsel, that if this matter were to go to trial, he could possibly be convicted of all counts in the information, as charged.

Defendant said he  knowingly and voluntarily enters his guilty plea believing it is in his best interest to do so. The plea agreement states that there are no constitutional barriers in place to prevent a judge from accepting a guilty plea from a defendant who wants to plead guilty while still protesting his innocence. 

(The government, quoted case law of North Carolina v. Alford, wherein although the defendant disagreed with the government’s version of what occurred, he understood that the government’s witness could testify at trial that she was forced to have sexual intercourse with him.)

The plea states that the defendant acknowledges the victim is his biological daughter, and the defendant entered an "Alford" guilty plea to rape and incest, to avoid the possibility of more serious consequences should he be convicted of all the charges. As part of the plea agreement, the government moves to dismiss the deviate sexual assault, resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child.

The plea agreement says both parties are free to make their own sentencing recommendations, and the defendant understands and accepts that sentencing recommendations are not binding on the court, which has the sole responsibility for determining an appropriate sentence within the limit of the law. 

Chief Justice Michael Kruse informed the defendant that if the court accepts his guilty plea and if the court imposes a different sentence than that recommended by counsel, he will not be allowed to withdraw his plea of guilty. The defendant noted he understood.

Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for the defendant on Feb. 15, 2013. He also ordered a probation report in this matter.



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