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Pitone Sivatia takes plea in middle of jury selection

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 67-year-old taxi driver accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old girl has opted to take a plea offer from the government.

Pitone Sivatia's trial was set to kick off this week.

It was in the middle of jury selection that defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson informed the court that Sivatia has had a change of heart and wants to change his plea from 'not guilty' to 'guilty'.

The plea agreement was read aloud in open court after prospective jurors were dismissed.

Sivatia, who has been in custody for over a year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond was charged with first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony, and endangering the welfare of a child. However, under a plea agreement, which was accepted by the court, Sivatia pled guilty to first degree sexual abuse.

With his guilty plea, Sivatia admits that on Jan. 30, 2018, he touched a 9-year-old girl in a sexual manner inside his room.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 31st.