Update: Teacher in Samoa answers to charges of sexual assault

joyetter@samoanews.com

Apia, SAMOA — A teacher from Pope Paulo High School has been arrested and will be charged with sexual assault involving female students. This was confirmed during the police press conference where Samoa’s Police Spokesperson, Superintendent Su’a LeMamea Tiumalu said the matter was reported to the police by the school’s principal. Su’a said the teacher would make his initial appear in Supreme Court on Monday (today in Samoa). The Catholic’s School teacher who is behind bars is Vili Sapati Vili of Mulifanua.

During the press conference Su’a stated that two female students are involved. He said when the incident was reported to the police, they questioned the 15-year-old girl and it was her statement that uncovered the incident involving the 18-year-old girl. Su’a did not go into details as to the questioning of the defendant in this case, but stated that the alleged sexual incidents occurred on separate occasions and it was during school time. The 37-year-old teacher is married and has children, says Su’a.

Su’a told Samoa News following the press conference that the defendant is facing two sex charges — one for inappropriate touching and the other for sexual contact (oral sex) and each of the counts is a felony and punishable up to 14 years in jail. He said the incident occurred last month and while Su’a did not specify any details of the principal’s allegations, he thanked the principal on behalf of the Samoa Police Service for reporting such a crime to the police.

He said it’s not easy informing the authorities of such matters knowing the negative impact on the school following this incident. He said the parents of the girls involved were present at the police station when the police officers questioned the girls as to the alleged sexual incidents as they were both students.

Last month Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala Warren handed down sentencing for a teacher in a separate incident that occurred at an elementary school in Aleipata against the teacher who is transgender, Fa’afetai Sola. “The first aggravating feature is that the accused is a school teacher in whom parents place their trust to teach their children while they are in school, not to sexually abuse them. Students place their trust in teachers to keep them safe at school. This incident happened at school. This offending is a gross breach of trust on the part of the accused.” Tafaoimarlo pointed out that the victim is a 10-year-old child. He is very young and vulnerable. The younger the victim of a sexual offense the greater the need for protection, she said.

Tafaoimarlo also pointed out that it’s aggravating that the accused is more than twice the victim’s age and there is an age gap of 17 years. Another aggravating factor is that the offence was premeditated. She said that this case is also particularly horrendous by the fact that the accused is a teacher in the school of the victim and used to teach the victim.

Sola was sentenced to two and a half years in jail. Sentencing documents were also sent to the Education Ministry so they'll be aware of the prosecution and conviction of one of their teachers.

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