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Another DPS sexual harassment complaint filed, 2nd in a month

[SN file photo]

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Another sexual harassment complaint at the Department of Public Safety has surfaced. This time, it involves a young female cop, who has been in the force a little over a year, and her supervisor, a 60-year-old male.

The alleged incident occurred last year but the victim only decided to speak out after one of her colleagues came forward two weeks ago, to report the she had been sexually harassed by a ranking DPS official.

This is the second case of sexual harassment that has been reported out of DPS in less than a month.

Samoa News understands the Attorney General’s Office has received copies of the police complaints — for both alleged incidents — and the AG has assigned the cases to an independent investigator, instead of having DPS handle them.

Samoa News points out that efforts to obtain a comment from DPS Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson regarding the issue have been unsuccessful.

Samoa News has obtained a copy of the statement given to police by the female cop, detailing the alleged incident which she claims occurred inside a police unit last year.

According to the statement, three police officers were inside the police unit on the day in question: the female cop, her male superior, and another male officer.

The victim alleges that while they were in the police unit, her supervisor reached across and brushed her face, and his hand dropped down to her left breast.

The incident happened while the trio was on their way back to the Fagaitua Substation, and were engaged in small talk. It was in the middle of their joking session that, according to the victim, her supervisor told the male cop that he shouldn't bring up the name of the female cop's fiancée anymore because there's something going on between the two of them and he didn't want her fiancée to be a distraction.

The female cop said she told her colleague he could say whatever he wants, and denied any involvement with her supervisor.

According to the victim, her supervisor immediately replied in Samoan, “mea ga o mea a ka'ua, se’i ga o k'aua oga fai fo’i lea” (This is just between us, just wait until we are alone, just the two of us).

She continued, “At the same time he reached over and brushed my left shoulder down to my breast. This made me feel extremely uncomfortable to the point where I was starting to get angry with him. I felt violated so I told him, “aua koe kago mai oe ia a’u” (Don’t touch me again).”

The victim alleges her supervisor said nothing, but only laughed like it was a joke.

According to the complaint, the alleged incident occurred when the police unit passed through Amaua village. Nothing was said afterwards, until the police unit parked in front of the East Substation in Fagaitua.

It was then, according to the complaint, the supervisor noticed the cables for the car radio were tangled and asked the female cop to untangle them.

She said while she was hopping out of the police unit, her supervisor allegedly said, “Ga e gugumi lau mea” (Your thing is tangled).

“I ignored him and because I was extremely uncomfortable and ready to remove myself, I left the cables alone," the victim wrote in her statement. "He then said, 'E le aoga lou fia mea ia a’u, e ke le iloa mea'." (It's a shame that you want to have sex with me but you don't know how to do it."

According to the complaint, the victim texted her fiancée to call her and he did. She then told him everything her supervisor said.

The complaint notes that the alleged action by the supervisor did not end there.

While the female cop was sitting inside the office doing her work, her supervisor went over to her and tried to kiss her. It was when she turned around that her supervisor allegedly kissed her cheek. The supervisor allegedly took it further, grabbing her face in an effort to plant a kiss on her mouth but the female cop pushed him away.

He then allegedly walked outside laughing like nothing had happened but the female cop was extremely angry and at the same time embarrassed.

When approached by Samoa News for a comment, the supervisor at first declined to talk but then changed his mind after we told him that we have a copy of the female cop's statement that was given to police last year.

“I thought this case was over last year after our meeting with the Commissioner and the female cop,” said the supervisor who appeared shocked.

“Man, I don’t know what to say now. I already apologized to the female cop, her parents, and also the Commissioner about what happened. They also told me that nothing would come out later, but look at it now. The case will be on the news and my wife and children will read it and become embarrassed about what happened,” he continued.

When asked about the allegations — the comments he made to the female cop and touching her breast – the supervisor just stared at Samoa News for a few seconds, almost as if ready to cry, and said, “I swear to God, it was nothing serious. We were joking and playing inside the car, and that's when I reached out to her and brushed her shoulder."

He then proceeded to demonstrate on the Samoa News reporter.

When asked if he ever touched the female cop’s breast, the supervisor said, “I can't recall whether I touched her breast or not; all I remember is that I touched her shoulder and it wasn't anything serious.”

The supervisor told Samoa News he can’t recall whether he ever tried to kiss her.

Samoa News understands that when the victim in this recent case learned that the Victims Advocate office had taken up the case of another female cop who alleged she was sexually harassed by a higher up several weeks ago, the two victims were able to connect, share phone numbers, and Victims Advocate, Ipu Avegalio Lefiti was contacted for assistance.

According to the supervisor, he became worried when the recent sexual harassment case was reported and publicized because he knew for sure the case involving him would eventually come out.

He claims he heard rumors that the Commissioner had instructed the female cop in this case to withdraw her complaint, which was echoed by other cops who spoke to Samoa News, saying a senior female cop and Le'i tried to persuade the victim in this case not to move forward with her complaint.

According to the supervisor, he treated the female cop like a daughter.

“All I’m praying for is that, if these allegations are true, I’ll ask God to punish me,” he concluded.

Cops who spoke to Samoa News said the two sexual harassment cases involve two senior police officers and therefore, Le’i must take action because they happened under his watch and his decision will determine if this sort of behavior will continue in the workplace.