DPS sexual harassment saga continues — Commish remains silent
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Inquiries into the two alleged sexual harassment cases at the Dept. of Public Safety are now underway, with investigators from the Attorney General's Office now looking into the allegations.
Samoa News understands charges may be filed against two senior police officers, but it is not a sure thing. In one of the cases, sources tell Samoa News that an attorney has advised the female cop to seek assistance from the Office of the federal EEOC in Hawai’i if she wants to pursue the matter further.
Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson continues to remain silent and is yet to offer a statement in regards to the two cases — both of which allegedly have occurred under his watch.
Samoa News has received information from several cops regarding the cases, specifically the most recent one that was reported, involving a young female cop who has been on the force a little over a year and her 60-year-old male supervisor.
Samoa News has reported that the second alleged sexual harassment case stems from an incident that occurred last year but didn't come to light until last week, following the report of sexual harassment of another female officer by a DPS male superior.
The victim in the second case declined to comment when approached by Samoa News.
However, a source told Samoa News that when the matter was first reported, a senior female cop advised her younger colleague — the alleged victim in the case — to drop the criminal complaint against her male supervisor, but allow the DPS Internal Affairs Division to handle it.
The senior female cop is alleged to have promised the victim that her supervisor would be terminated from his job as a result of the internal investigation.
However, after finding out a few months later that nothing was being done in her case, the alleged victim went to the DPS Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and spoke to one of the detectives, asking him for help in regards to her complaint.
(This was the detective who conducted the initial investigation the day the incident occurred in June 2017 at the Faga'itua Substation, where police interviewed both the female victim and her supervisor about what happened).
According to a Samoa News source, a CID detective pulled the file and pursued the criminal complaint. The police report was then forwarded to DPS Records but when the investigator from the AG’s office picked up the file last month, the case was closed.
A meeting between Le’i and one of his deputy commissioners, together with the female cop and her supervisor was called the day of the alleged incident last year. During that meeting, the supervisor allegedly admitted to the commissioner and his deputy that the allegations against him were true.
It’s after the meeting, the female cop decided to withdraw her complaint after she was promised that her supervisor would be terminated if she withdrew her complaint. But the female cop re-filed her case with the CID after she found out a few months later that no action was taken.
“The commissioner called a second meeting with the female cop and one of his deputies, after he found out the female cop still wanted to pursue her case and move forward with it. During that meeting, Le’i and his deputy told the female cop that they could not prosecute her case. Le’i also allegedly scolded the female cop and told her he doesn’t believe what she said in her complaint,” said a source, which didn't want to be identified.
One of the reasons for not prosecuting the case, according to what the commissioner allegedly told the female cop, was because they violated the supervisor’s rights by asking him questions and he responded by saying everything was true.
Sources told Samoa News the female cop then asked her captain for help, and she was advised to seek a private attorney to deal with her case because DPS would never prosecute her complaint.
The female cop spoke to a private attorney but she was advised to go to Legal Aid first. When she did, Legal Aid advised her to take her complaint directly to the AG’s office.
ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE — CRIMINAL DIVISION
The Criminal Division of the Attorney General’s Office, headed by Assistant AG Christy Dunn, is now handling the case.
Samoa News asked Dunn how long it would take for them to investigate the case and if it's true that when she picked up the case file from DPS Records, the case was closed.
Her response was, “I’m sorry, I cannot comment about the case.”
“Did you get a chance to speak to the detective who did the initial investigation, and when are you going to file charges against these senior police officers?” Samoa News asked Dunn.
She responded, “Sorry, I cannot comment about the case, because we’re reviewing the files and we need more time.”