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Court denies bail reduction motion in sex assault case for Manoa Niukavu

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — District Court Judge Fiti Sunia has denied a motion by Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson to reduce the bond amount for the defendant Manoa Niukavu to $30,000. Given the totality and the circumstance of the allegation against Niukavu, Sunia said that the $50,000 surety bond the court has already set for the defendant is reasonable.

Niukavu from Fiji, who is held in custody on allegations that 7 months ago he sexually assaulted a 16-year old girl, who is also a Fiji national appeared in court yesterday morning for his preliminary examination (PX) election.

His PX is now scheduled for Aug. 9, 2018 at 1p.m in the afternoon. His attorney also argued his motion for a bail reduction.

In arguing his motion, Anderson told the court this is the first time his client, who has a family in American Samoa, has been charged. Anderson argued that the $50,000 is much too much for his client, compared to what he’s being charged with.

The government’s attorney on the other said opposed the defense’s motion. Prosecutor Bianca Lherisson told the court based on the police report, the victim in this case is a minor. She further stated the bail that has already been set by the court is a reasonable amount.

Before denying the defense’s motion, Sunia stated that the nature of the offense posts a high risk to minor children in the territory. He also stated that if the LBJ Hospital needs the defendant, they must come up with a $50,000 surety bond to bail him out. Sunia then denied the motion to reduce bond.

Niukavu, 46-years old, 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.

The charges stem from an incident that happened on Dec. 2017, where he sexually assaulted a 16-year old girl twice inside the house where both the victim and the defendant lived.