Lawyer says victim was a woman, not a child — asks that his client not register as sex offender
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who spent 10 months in jail for touching a woman’s breast in a sexual manner is now free. Samasoni Leama was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) on Wednesday, after his sentence was handed down by Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea.
Leama was initially charged with attempted rape and 1st degree sexual abuse, both class C felonies, punishable by not more than 7 years in jail, a fine of $5,000, or both.
But under a plea agreement with the government, Leama pled guilty to the amended charge of attempted sexual abuse in the 2nd degree, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.
With his guilty plea, Leama admits that on Oct. 27, 2017 he touched a woman's breast, without her consent, to arouse and gratify his sexual desires.
Leama appeared in court this week for sentencing. His attorney, Public Defender Michael White asked the court for a probated sentence, saying Leama has served almost 12 months in prison.
Despite a request from the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn for Leama to register as a sex offender, as a condition of his probation, White told the court that his client should not be ordered to register as a sex offender. Not only was he convicted of a misdemeanor, but the victim was a woman, not a minor child.
Patea did not agree. He told counsel White that the statute is clear, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, once a person is convicted of any sexual violation, he or she has to register as a sex offender.
“Your client has to register as a sex offender,” Patea told White.
Leama was sentenced to probation for one year. As a condition, he was ordered to serve 6 months behind bars. He was credited for the 10 months he was detained at the TCF to await the outcome of his case.
He was also ordered to register as a sex offender, and he is to remain a law abiding citizen throughout the probation period.