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46-year old man faces charges of sexual assault of 16-year old girl

District Court Judge Fiti Sunia

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 46-year old man from Fiji employed by the LBJ Hospital as an X-Ray Tech was arrested by police last week on allegations that 7 months ago he sexually assaulted a 16-year old girl, who is also a Fiji national.

The victim and her sister made the report to police two weeks after the alleged incident took place.

Manoa Niukavu is being charged with 6 criminal counts that include 2 counts of sodomy; 2 counts of 1st degree sexual abuse, all class B felonies, punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 15 years; and with 2 counts of 3rd degree assault, both class C misdemeanors, punishable by imprisonment for up to fifteen days, and a fine of up to $300, or both.

Niukavu made his initial appearance before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia last Friday where Sunia established his bail as a $50,000, surety bond. If he can post his bond, the court orders that Niukavu is not to have a direct or indirect contact with the victim or government witnesses; to surrender his travel documents to the government attorney, and he is not leave or attempt to leave the territory without a written order of the court.

The defendant refused to sign the copy of his arrest warrant that was attached to the affidavit to notify the court that he had received the copy of the arrest warrant and the government’s affidavit.

According to the Immigration report presented to the court, Niukavu has an immigration status of “SB” and his immigration ID is valid until 2019.

When Sunia asked the Immigration Officer (IO) about a “SB status”, the officer replied that it refers to an individual who is sponsored by a business.

“Who’s the defendant’s sponsor?” Sunia wanted to know. The IO answered, “It’s the LBJ Hospital.”

Sunia then questioned the IO about the criminal clearance requirement procedures the Immigration Office and Immigration Board have set for people with special skills from other countries who apply for employment in the territory.

“What happens to the requirement for criminal clearance the person who is applying for the job in American Samoa has to submit along with all the required documents?” Sunia asked. The IO told the court that she can not offer any answer to the court enquiry.

Sunia continued to ask about the required documentation the person who is applying for a job in the territory has to submit.

“There is a criminal record for the applicant from his/ her home country that needs to be submitted,” Sunia told to the IO. “We’re not allowed to let a criminal enter American Samoa. The court is not taking this matter lightly. This specific job and the allegation have risk.”

Niukavu is scheduled to appear in District Court this morning for his preliminary examination (PX) hearing.


The government claims that on Dec. 19, 2017 the victim (who is named in the affidavit as SV), and her sister walked into the Central Police Station and allegedly reported that Niukavu sexually assaulted SV in Pava’ia’i, American Samoa.

A detective from the DPS Criminal Investigation Bureau (CID) was assigned to investigate the matter. The victim was interviewed by two CID detectives.

It appeared from the government’s case that the defendant and the victim, who both are Fiji nationals lived in the same house in Pava’ia’i.

The victim told investigators that on Dec. 6, 2017, Niukavu woke her up (victim) to iron the school uniforms for herself and the defendant’s daughter. While the victim was ironing, Niukavu came to her and allegedly hugged her from behind and kissed her. She could feel his penis against her back.

Immediately after the alleged incident, the victim reported what had allegedly happened to her eldest sister who in turn reported it to their mother. The victim’s mother told her to come home to Fiji, if it happened again.

Five days after the first alleged incident another alleged incident happened again inside the same house where the defendant and the victim lived.

The victim further reported to police in her statement that on Dec. 11, 2017, she did not go to school because of a painful boil. Niukavu was also at home that day, he did not go to work.

While she was lying in bed, Niukavu came and lay down behind her. He allegedly tickled her and started kissing her but she slapped him and told him to stop. Niukavu then held her hand and allegedly removed a thin wrap that was the only clothing she had over her chest.

She struggled but he was too strong for her to get away from him. The victim told Niukavu that she was scared, but Niukavu told her that there was nothing to be scared about. He told also told the victim to relax and don’t move.

The victim told investigators that she was really scared and told Niukavu to stop what he was doing, but Niukavu continued to kiss her and then moved down to other parts of her body. Niukavu allegedly pulled her shorts and panties off and continued to perform sexual acts on her while she was crying and continuing to ask him to stop.

When Niukavu finally stopped, he then asked the victim for her forgiveness.

On Dec. 21, 2017, the victim was examined by Dr. I. Timoteo-Liaina at the LBJ Hospital, and a sexual assault report was completed.

On Jan. 3, 2018, the victim’s pastor along with her mother walked into the Central Police Station to report another alleged incident that happened on Dec. 12, 2017. The victim’s mother told the investigator that on Dec. 12, 2017, her daughter called her up and told her that Niukavu had tried to rape her.

Police interviewed Niukavu on Feb.15, 2018 about the alleged incident, after he was warned of his constitutional rights, and Niukavu agreed to talk to police about what happened.

He told police that the victim complained about a boil on her armpit, and he massaged her arm. They had a conversation, and started kissing. Niukavu admitted going to the victim’s bedroom where he performed more sexual acts on her including touching her private part. Niukavu further told police that the victim consented to the encounter.

Niukavu was remanded into custody after his court hearing last Friday unable to post his bond.