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Church offers a job to convicted rapist, who wants out on work release

The High Court is waiting to hear testimony from a representative of the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa, which is offering a custodian job to convicted rapist Tone Pulou.

Pulou, the former teacher who pled guilty to raping his 13-year old student was sentenced to serve 28 months in jail as a condition of his ten year sentence.

Pulou came before Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr last week for the hearing, which had been filed through his attorney, Mike White, requesting the court to allow Pulou to be released for work. 

Along with White’s two page motion is a letter from the CCCAS main office, which is signed by General Secretary Reverend Reupena Alo and dated October 22, 2012. The letter is addressed to the Trial Division of the High Court of American Samoa as a “Letter of Hiring for Mr Tone Pulou”.

According to the letter, the CCCAS would like to hire Tone Pulou as an employee of CCCAS, to work as a custodian at the main office. “His effective date of hire is dependent upon a work release approval from the Court. The letter noted that his working hours were to be from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday to Friday.

“It is our prayer that we will continue to work together as a team with similar ambition to support and teach our young men and women to become better citizens.

“We will continue to welcome your unsparing support in the future, as we endeavor together to serve God’s people through our respectful entities” the letter stated.

White’s motion reminded the High Court that they had stated they would consider a motion for work release when the defendant could establish bona fide employment, and he has received an offer from the CCCAS.

According to the motion, the defendant shows that the employment will allow the defendant to meet his child support obligations.

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop argued that the defendant is a convicted rapist, and if he works as a custodian for the church then he will again have access to young girls. Jessop pointed out that during sentencing the victim’s mother asked that the defendant stay as far away as possible from her daughter.

The court raised concerns about how much the church would pay the defendant and asked that a representative from the church appear in court to answer their concerns and questions.

Richmond scheduled another hearing for this matter on Thursday.

During the sentencing hearing, White had recommended that Pulou should be jailed from eight to ten years, noting that the victim is blameless in this case and the entire burden falls on his client.

White told the court he had spoken with the victim’s mother, who asked for only two things — that the defendant not have any further contact with the victim; and that the sentence, whatever it is, “should be fashioned for a lengthy period so the victim can complete her education without any interference from the defendant.”

Deputy AG Jessop had recommended that the court sentence Pulou to the maximum allowable under the law — which is 15 years — noting the victim was a 13-year old student. The defendant had been in a “position of authority” she had said, and “he abused that authority as a teacher and took advantage of the victim, who did not know better.”

During the sentencing Richmond noted that a great deal of discussion had taken place pertaining to this serious case. “The defendant had a promising future, however he made a terrible and a serious mistake,” Richmond said at the time.

The court then sentenced Pulou to ten years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended under the condition that he serve 28 months in jail without any release, except by  court order, or for medical reasons. The court also noted that they would entertain a motion for work release.

The defendant is also ordered to register as a sex offender. Pulou admitted in court he had an ongoing relationship with his student which led to the girl’s pregnancy, admitting that sexual intercourse with his female student was between September 2009 and February 2010.

According to the government’s case the matter came to light when the female student and her mother went to the OBGYN clinic at LBJ Medical Center only to find out she was pregnant, at which time Child Protective Services with the Department of Human and Social Services was contacted.

Pulou fled the territory to Australia last year when the government moved to file criminal charges. In October 2011, when Pulou visited relatives in Hawai’i, he was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents based on a warrant issued by the local District Court.