Man admits to molesting a 10-year-old girl — second 10-year-old he has been charged with sexually abusing
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 56-year-old man accused of raping and molesting a 10-year-old girl several times in April of this year has admitted to the court that the accusations against him are true.
Ioakimo Felise appeared in court yesterday morning for a Change of Plea (COP) hearing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn.
In previous plea agreements, the government generally only provides a brief summary of what happened; however, in the plea agreement between the government and Felise, not only did the prosecutor present a detailed report, she also provided all the discovery intended to be presented to jurors if Felise’s case goes to trial.
Felise was originally facing ten criminal charges, including 3 counts of child molestation, one count of rape, 2 counts of sodomy, and 4 counts of first degree sexual abuse, all felonies that carry hefty fines and long terms of imprisonment.
However, under a plea bargain with the government, Felise agreed to plead guilty to one count of child molesting, a class A felony, punishable by imprisonment from ten to thirty years; and one count of first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony, punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
With his guilty plea, Felise, who has been in custody since he was arrested on a “no bail status,” admitted to the court that he did molest the 10-year-old girl. He also affirmed all the discovery the government presented regarding the case.
According to Felise, he resided in the US since he was 13 years old and he attended school in California. He moved to the territory in 2001.
According to the government, the case was reported to police by two females who saw the young girl, followed by an unknown male, running down from a mountainous area in Nu’uuli.
The two eyewitnesses managed to flag down a police unit that was in the area, to report what they saw.
Two female cops responded and the minor was placed in a police unit before they headed eastbound to locate the man who had allegedly followed her downhill.
According to prosecutors, the young girl’s body was covered in dirt; she appeared scared and was also crying.
It was when the police unit passed a store in Nu’uuli that cops observed a male walking towards another store. The little girl immediately identified the man as the one who allegedly raped her in the mountains.
The suspect, Felise, was apprehended, cuffed, and transported to the Tafuna Substation for questioning.
When questioned by detectives, the girl said Felise took her to the mountains where they had sexual intercourse, and Felise gave her money in exchange for sex. She said every time after their sexual encounters. Felise would give her money. Altogether, the girl said she was given $100.70
Felise admitted to a female cop that he had sexual intercourse with the girl after he gave her money for sex.
This is everything Dunn made known to the court, information she said that was evidence the government is prepared to present to jurors if Felise’s case goes to trial next week.
When questioned by Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea, Felise admitted to all the facts of the case. He then asked for a chance to address the court.
When Patea asked what it was he was trying to say, Felise said he wanted to apologize to the court.
Patea told Felise there will be a time — later on — when he will get that chance.
The judge asked Felise a lot of questions, just to ensure that Felise understood all the terms and conditions of his plea agreement with the government.
After Felise said he fully understood, the court then scheduled him for sentencing on Jan. 03, 2019.
This is not the first time Felise has appeared in court to face charges of this nature.
According to Samoa News archives, in November 2011, Felise was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment as a condition of a five-year probation term, after he was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse.
For that case, he was initially charged with one count each of child molestation and deviate sexual assault; but under a plea agreement with the government he pled guilty to deviate sexual assault, a class D felony.
The victim in that case was also a 10-year-old girl, who told police Felise grabbed her and pulled her under the steps of a guesthouse where he proceeded to fulfill his sexual desires.
Felise stopped and fled the scene after another man called out to him, according to court documents.
The government’s attorney at the time recommended that Felise depart the territory after serving the required jail term; however, she said the government was unclear on Felise's immigration status.
Samoa News understands that a question concerning Felise's citizenship, whether he was born in the territory or in neighboring Samoa, was part of the court's query into his immigration status.