Just before sex case trial begins, defendant and wife charged with witness tampering
Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Department of Public Safety arrested a couple over the weekend, on charges of tampering with witnesses and concealing the offense. The charges stem from allegations that Tau Malae and his wife Miracle Malae removed two girls from the territory, who are victims in a sexually related case that is pending in the High Court against Tau Malae.
Each charge is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment up to five years, a $5,000 fine, or both.
The couple are scheduled to appear in District Court this morning.
The government’s first case against Tau Malae was scheduled to go to trial this week, however during a hearing last Friday, Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop asked the court to postpone the jury trial for Mr Malae given that the government has charged the defendant and his wife with new criminal charges. “The new charges are connected to this case and the victims have been relocated back to Samoa by the defendant and his wife,” said Jessop.
Defense attorney Fiti Sunia objected to the motion saying that they should have a jury trial on the said date, given that they are ready to proceed to trial.
Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond did not rule from the bench on the government’s request, but later verbally granted the motion to postpone the jury trial to a later date.
The government’s first case against Mr. Malae accuses him of performing sexual acts with his wife’s two nieces last year. He’s facing charges of sodomy, two charges of first degree sexual abuse, two counts of deviate sexual assault and rape in the first matter. According to court affidavit, it's alleged that Mr. Malae touched both girls in a sexual manner.
Court document says the victims lost count of how many times the defendant tried to have sex with them, and the defendant threatened to beat the victims and send them back to Upolu if they told anyone what happened. The victims also said the defendant had apologized and told the victims he would not do it again.
In the new case against Mr. and Mrs. Malae, court filings state that the victims departed American Samoa on May 22, 2012 via Interisland Airways.
One witness told police that Mrs. Malae paid for two one-way tickets for the victims. Court affidavits state that despite the fact that the government had in their possession the travel documents of the victims, new travel documents were applied for and had been obtained for them.
Police made contact with the victims in Samoa on several occasions.
The government noted that a court order to release Tau Malae in his first case states the defendant is to have no contact directly or indirectly with the two complaining witnesses, who are minors. However, it is alleged that Mrs. Malae visited the victims where they were staying often to talk to them. The victims told police Mrs. Malae talked to them about the case against her husband, Tau and asked the victims to drop the charges against her husband. It's alleged Mrs. Malae would pick up the victims after school and take them to her house, the house she shares with her husband, where they were greeted by him.
The government claims one witness stated that Mrs. Malae admitted to her that she and her husband had applied for and paid for the two minors’ new travel documents so they could travel back to Apia, Samoa.
The witness further stated that Mrs. Malae also told her that she and Tau Malae had also paid for the two minors’ tickets to travel to Apia, Samoa.