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Man pleads guilty to sex abuse of underage girl

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAA SAMOA — A 31-year-old man from Mesepa accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl multiple times has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Tele’a Filipo appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.

Filipo, who remains in custody, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond, was initially charged with two counts of rape and two counts of sodomy, both class B felonies, punishable by imprisonment of 5-15 years; four counts of first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both; and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term of up to one year, a fine of $1,000 or both.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Filipo pled guilty to two counts of first degree sexual abuse. The remaining charges are dismissed. Filipo admits that on Dec. 22 and Dec. 28, 2019, he touched a 16-year-old girl inappropriately for the purpose of sexual gratification.

Both parties recommended to the court, that Sani be placed on probation for 5 years under the condition that he register as a sex offender and undergo HIV testing, before he departs the territory and remains outside of its borders.

Filipo is scheduled to appear again in court next month for sentencing.