66-year-old man arrested and accused of sexual abuse of a 6-year-old girl
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 66-year-old man from Vatia was arrested by police last week pursuant to an arrest warrant from the court on the allegation that he sexually abused a 6-year-old girl.
Samoa News has chosen not to name the defendant to protect the privacy of the 6-year-old girl.
The defendant, who uses the same first name, but is also known with two different last names made his initial appearance before Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea last week.
He is charged with one count of child molesting, a class A felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than ten years nor more than thirty years; one count of sodomy, a class B felony punishable by a term of imprisonment for five to fifteen years; and 3 counts of 1st degree sexual abuse, a class D felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Bail is set at $50,000.
If he posts bond, the court has ordered the defendant not to have any direct of indirect contact with the victim, remain law abiding and make all of his court appearances.
During his initial appearance his defense attorney said that the defendant wished to waive his rights to a preliminary examination, and let his case be bound over to the High Court for further proceedings.
The defendant appeared before Chief Justice Michale Kruse last Friday morning for arraignment where he entered a not guilty plead to all the charges against him. Assistant Attorney General Kristine Soule appeared for the government while Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson represented the defendant.
Pretrial conference is set for Jan. 8, 2021.
Before the defendant enter his not guilty plea, Kruse wanted to know his real legal name because court records shows that he had two names.
When asked about his name, the defendant told the court his “real” name.
However, Kruse told the government’s attorney that there was also a different name on the arrest warrant, and that it appeared with a signature.
When asked why he signed the different name on the arrest warrant if he knows what his legal name is, the defendant said that his dad’s brother holds the title and takes care of his matters and his name.
Kruse looked at the government’s attorney and asked, “Government, are we arresting the right person?”
Soule replied, “The government believes, yes.”
She further stated that the name (on the arrest warrant) was provided to the investigators by the minor-victim.
Kruse ordered the defendant to appear during his next hearing and the government to provide proof of the defendant’s legal identity.
The government alleges that in July 2020, a criminal investigation involving a 6-year-old girl from Vatia allegedly sexually abused by the defendant was transferred to a Special Investigator of the Attorney General’s Office to follow up.
According to the investigation report prepared by a police officer, it was revealed that on Apr. 23, 2020, the defendant sexually abused the victim at the back of the house. The victim told investigators the defendant would meet her at the Samoan umu (outside Samoan kitchen), and there he would allegedly undress her and touch her inappropriately.
On July 23, 2020, a Special Investigator from the AG’s office took over the criminal investigation and interviewed some of the witnesses regarding the alleged abuse.
A family member told investigators that she was present during the victim’s examination conducted by a local medical doctor. During the examination, the victim mentioned several incidents of the same thing that had happened prior to the current incident, which had brought her to see the doctor, but was afraid to say a word to anyone because the defendant had threatened and forbidden her to tell anyone.
The family member also told investigators that during the examination, the victim told the doctor that the defendant touched her inappropriately several times on different occasions.
Investigators also interviewed the doctor about the examination where she confirmed what the victim had told her, including the acts of sexual abuse the defendant perpetrated on the victim at the umu.
On Aug. 4th, the investigators questioned the 6-year-old victim and her mother.
The mother told investigators that the sexual abuse incidents happened between February- April of 2020 because those were the months that she had started dropping her kids off at her sister’s house in Vatia for babysitting.
The victim’s mother told investigators that the first incident happened at the ‘umu’ located in the back of her sister’s residence and that her daughter (victim) told her the defendant came to bring food for their pigs behind the umu, and had called out to her (victim) to bring him a cup of water.
The victim told her mother that after giving him the cup of water, he had asked her to scratch his back. Shortly thereafter, as the victim scratched his back, the defendant was in a sitting position with her standing behind him, and that is when he allegedly reached back and touched her inappropriately through her clothing. The defendant told the victim not to say anything to anyone including her mother about the act, threatening to ‘fasi’ (beat) her if she did.
On Sept. 18th, investigators, along with an agent from the Victims Advocate spoke to the victim and her mother, and the victim repeated her story three times.
Investigators also interviewed family members, who identified the defendant as always coming to the house to drop of pig food and that he had a plantation right next to the house; and that he would always have a cup of tea or water whenever he was seen around the plantation.
Also recounted by one of the family was that on Apr. 22, 2020 — around 7 p.m — the defendant came over to their house to apologize about what he did to the victim. During his apology, the witness’ daughter became distraught and slapped him in the face.
Investigators also interviewed the sister of the victim’s mother, who stated that her 13-year-old nephew told her that on Apr. 22nd, he saw the defendant and the 6-year-old victim engage in ‘inappropriate acts’ under the mango tree. The victim’s mother’s sister further stated to investigators that the defendant came over to her house to apologize and seek forgiveness regarding his wrong actions.
Several witnesses told investigators that they saw the defendant go to the victim’s aunt’s house and beg for forgiveness. They also saw another female slap him in the face while the defendant was kneeling down inside the house.
Another witness told investigators that the defendant was on his knees begging them to please forgive him and that he would never do it again and to not let their clan- family know about what he had done.
The witness said the defendant was shaking and crying while apologizing to them about what he had done to the victim.