Man accused of sexual abuse of 16-year old says it's a case of mistaken identity
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The case against a married man accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl was filed in District Court last month.
Thirty six-year-old man, who has a pending drug case in High Court from 2019, made his initial appearance last month. He is charged with two counts of first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony; and two class A misdemeanors: third degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Bond is set at $10,000.
Despite the severity of the allegations against his client, defense attorney asked for bail reduction or otherwise, release him on his own recognizance. The defense attorney argued that the case is based on allegations only. He said his client is a first time offender who has been a bus driver for many years, and who claims that everything is a set-up.
The defense attorney further told the court that his client’s pending drug case in High Court is just allegation. Nothing has been proved.
The prosecutor strongly objected to both motions, saying the allegations are serious and it is the government's duty to protect the young victim. He said the bail amount is reasonable and the defendant must be ordered not to make any contact with the victim.
Furthermore, the government said that the defendant’s pending criminal matter before the High Court is scheduled for trial next year, 2022. According to the government, the defendant is released on $10,000 surety bond from his previous case subject to conditions that he shall be law abiding and not violate any laws in the territory. The prosecutor said that the government will file in High Court a proper motion to revoke the defendant’s release on bond due to the new allegation against him.
The court agreed and bail remains at $10,000.
If released on bond, the defendant is to abide by standard conditions, in addition to finding someplace else to stay, as the alleged crime took place in the same compound where he and the victim and her family reside.
On the morning of Dec. 29th, 2020, the mother of the alleged victim called police to report that her 16-year-old daughter had been sexually abused by her father’s best friend, whom they consider ‘family’.
Several officers responded to the call and were briefed by the victim’s mother about the situation. The minor victim was also interviewed by police in the presence of her mother. Her father was unaware of the situation because he was in custody when the alleged incident occurred.
The victim told police that she was asleep the previous evening when she was awoken by someone inappropriately touching her. She said at first, she thought it was a dream, but then she saw the defendant standing next to her head, while looking around to see if anyone could see him. The defendant whispered to her to be quiet and not make a sound, adding that he wanted to spend time with her but he doesn’t want anybody from her family to know that he’s inside the house.
The victim said she screamed and yelled out for her mother and the defendant ran out of the house, started his bus, which was parked on the road across from their house — and left.
The victim claims that this was not the first time the defendant had done this to her — touching her inappropriately. She recounted several incidents which included the defendant trying to give her money at times, which she refused, and his being drunk at one time during one of the incidents.
According to the victim’s mother, it was her 19-year-old daughter who caught the defendant inside the victim’s room on the night of a prior incident.
When interviewed by police, the victim’s older sister said that sometime in the month of January, at around 4a.m., she awoke and went to use the bathroom. When she returned, she was shocked to see the defendant standing next to her sister’s bed, and he was equally surprised to see her opening the door to her sister’s room.
The witness told police that she didn’t say a word, she just stood at the door and looked at him, who then pretended that he was looking for his car keys. A few moments later, the defendant stood up and walked away and disappeared into the darkness.
The victim’s older sister said she had a bad feeling that the defendant had tried to do something bad to her sister that morning, but also thought it was not possible because he’s like an uncle to them. However, when his actions were repeated on the early morning of Dec. 29th, she decided to inform her mother.
Cops were unable to locate the defendant in the month of December of last year regarding this matter. They visited the place where he used to stay but was told that he had moved to another place. Last month, the defendant was apprehended at his girlfriend’s house in Kokoland after police received a tip from a reliable source that he was hiding at his girlfriend’s house.
When questioned by police, the defendant said it was the victim who asked him to come to her room early in the morning so they could talk. He further claimed that it was the 19-year-old female who told him to come to her room to spend the time with her, however, he was shocked to learn that he went to the wrong room and the female who was sleeping in the room was the 16-year-old victim.
The defendant told investigators that it was the young victim who forced him to touch her body in a sexual manner, however, he told her that he had came for her elder sister, not her. According to the defendant, he felt bad about what happened between him and the victim, because the victim’s family treats him like a family member.
He blamed his drug problem and the fact that he was drunk that night, which was one of the many factors that caused him to go to the victim’s family.
The defendant was arrested and charged for unlawful possessed of methamphetamine and marijuana after cops discovered illegal drugs inside his vehicle during a traffic stop 3 years ago. Patrolling officers pulled over the defendant’s vehicle in Nu’uuli for speeding.
He was found to have no driver’s license or other form of photo identification and his vehicle was then impounded by cops to the TPS.
It was during an inventory of the vehicle that cops discovered an empty wallet under the driver’s seat containing two small stamped size baggies containing methamphetamine and 2 hand rolled marijuana joints.