Overstayer pleads guilty to sexually assaulting a 16-year old girl
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man from Samoa pled guilty last week to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl over a span of nearly five months.
Polani Taumaloto, 24, is an overstayer who was initial slapped with 8 felony charges — two counts of rape, two counts of sodomy, and 4 counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, all felonies.
However, under a plea agreement with the government, the defendant pled guilty to 2 counts of sexual abuse in the first degree and the remaining charges were dismissed.
With his guilty plea, Taumaloto admits that between Mar. 24 and Aug. 14 of 2018, he sexually assaulted a young girl who was under 16 years of age by engaging in sexual activities with her. The defendant admitted to the Court that he had sexual intercourse with the 15-year-old girl several times, and he did it to satisfy his sexual desires.
During court proceedings, the court informed the defendant that by pleading guilty to the two offenses, he is waiving his right to a jury trial, and once the Court accepts his guilty plea, he will be convicted of both offenses, and he will be sentenced according to the law.
When the court asked the defendant if he understood what was going to happen if he pled guilty, Taumaloto shook his head and asked, “What happens if I don’t have an I.D? Should I be allowed to go back home now?”
The court asked the defendant what I.D he was referring to, and Taumaloto replied, “My Immigration I.D because I came here on a 30-day permit, and I don’t have a I.D or legal papers to stay in American Samoa.”
The court responded, “That’s not the issue before us right now. I’m talking about your constitutional right, whether you understand it or not. Do you understand that if you waive your right to a jury trial and wish to enter a guilty plea, you will be found guilty whether you have an Immigration I.D or not?”
Taumaloto replied affirmatively.
The defendant has been remanded back to custody, as he is unable to post a $15,000 surety bond.
His will be sentenced on May 7, 2020.
According to the government's case, the 16-year-old victim told police she and the defendant had sexual intercourse numerous times between Mar. 14 and Aug. 24 of 2018.
When questioned by police, Taumaloto confessed to the sex acts but added, he thought the victim was over 18 years old.