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Alleged sexual abuser arrested after victim's father goes to police

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 52-year-old man from Pavaivai was arrested by police last month, for the alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl.

The matter was reported to authorities by the victim’s father on Nov. 10th. Police who responded spoke to the victim and her parents at their home in Pavaiai. According to the government, the defendant is a friend of the victim’s parents, and they are neighbors. The victim’s family treated the alleged offender as one of their own ‘aiga’.

The defendant was not home when police arrived in the area, and a couple that lives next door told investigators that he took off when he saw police units heading towards the victim’s home.

According to the victim’s statement to police, one of her neighbors — a single mother — asked her to go to the defendant’s house to ask him for money to buy them sodas. It was when she went to the house that the defendant inappropriately touched her over her clothing.

According to the government, the girl said she tried to escape because she could smell alcohol and she also saw empty beer cans in the trash bin. She said she knew something was weird with him, by the way he was acting.

In the affidavit, police note that the victim was confident throughout the interview process. But when she mentioned the inappropriate touching, she began to tear up.

When questioned by police, the victim’s mother said she was aware of the situation, but her daughter waited until her father came home to inform him about what happened.

According to the mother, this is not the first incident in her family involving the defendant — that one occurred in the beginning of this year with her daughter also — but it was not reported because both parties settled it.

When asked about the alleged first incident, the victim’s mother didn’t specify the date but said it happened at night. She said she heard her daughter screaming from the back of the house for help. And when she went to check, she saw the defendant holding her daughter’s hand, trying to pull her into his vehicle. When she yelled out for him to stop is when the defendant released her daughter’s hand.

When questioned by police, the defendant denied the recent incident, and said the reason why the victim’s family is making false accusations is because they’re mad at him for telling them straight to pay back the money they borrowed from him 4 months ago.

He further told investigators that he treated the victim and her family as his own family and blood. Sometimes he gave them food and money because he knew that their financial situation is not stable and he wanted to make sure the children had something to eat.

The defendant made his initial appearance in Court last month. He is charged with first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony; and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.

Bond is set at $15,000 and a preliminary examination is this Friday. The court has denied a defense motion to reduce bond to $5,000.

If he is able to post bond, among other conditions, the defendant is not to make any direct or indirect contact with the victim, and he is not to leave or attempt to leave the territory while his case is pending.