Probationer accuses victim after he’s charged with sex abuse
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The case against a married man accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl was filed in District Court last month. During his arrest, cops discovered drugs in his possession and in his vehicle. Fiatoa Maeli, 47, made his initial appearance last month.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, along 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.
Maeli is on probation for 5 years after being convicted for unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) in 2017.
Bond is set at $20,000 and a preliminary examination is set for next week.
Despite the severity of the allegations against his client, the defense attorney asked for a bail reduction to $5,000. The defense attorney argued that the case is based on allegations only. He told the court that despite his client being on probation for a previous conviction, he has been able to comply with all of his probation conditions since he was sentenced four years ago in 2017.
Maeli’s attorney informed the court that his client has been a taxi driver for over 3 years now and he provides for his wife and children.
The prosecutor 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 while his case is pending in court.
The court agreed and bail remains at $20,000.
If released on bond, Maeli 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 Maeli, and the victim and her family reside.
The defense attorney informed the court that his client can reside with his brother and his family in Kokoland. The alleged incident took place in Ottoville.
On the morning of Feb. 12th, 2021, the mother of the alleged victim called police to report that her 15-year-old daughter had been sexually abused by a man who is well known to their family and is a taxi driver. The man was later identified as Fiatoa Maeli, the defendant in this matter who lives with his family 100 yards away from the victim’s family.
The minor victim was interviewed by police in the presence of her mother. Her father was unaware of the situation because he was at work when the alleged incident occurred. The victim told police that it’s been two weeks now since the suspect sexually abused her on three different occasions.
She described all three incidents to the police, with the first one happening in her room, when when she was awoken by someone inappropriately touching her. She said at first, she thought it was a dream.
Windows in her room were open because it was hot and she had opened them to get fresh air, and that is how Maeli molested her — through the room’s open windows. The victim sat up and pushed Maeli’s hand away from her but Maeli whispered to her to be quiet and not make a sound, adding that he wanted to spend time with her.
The victim said she screamed and yelled out for her mother. Maeli then turned around and ran in the direction where his house is located, started his vehicle, which was parked in front of his house and left the premises. The victim said she witnessed Maeli’s action.
The second incident, according to the victim, happened one week after the first incident while she was sitting in front of her house. The victim said she felt someone touching her inappropriately from behind and when she turned around, she saw Maeli standing behind her. When she asked about what he did, Maeli laughed without saying a word.
Maeli was drunk that night, according to the victim.
The third incident happened while the victim was sleeping, she told police — when she felt something heavy on her. She said she woke up and Maeli was trying to lie on top of her. She said she pushed him and yelled out to her family, causing Maeli to run out and head back to his house.
The government claims that there were other times when Maeli confronted the victim and gave her money, which the victim did not accept.
According to the victim’s mother, her 19-year-old daughter saw Maeli in the victim’s room on the night of one of the incidents. She describe to police what she saw Maeli doing — standing behind her youngest sister (victim) while hugging her on her chest from behind. She further stated that Maeli was equally surprised to see her standing in the kitchen watching what he was doing.
The witness told police that she didn’t say a word, she just stood in the middle of the kitchen and looked at Maeli, who then pretended that he was talking to the victim normally. A few moments later, Maeli stood up and walked away, started his vehicle and left.
The victim’s older sister said she had a bad feeling that Maeli 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 Maeli’s actions were repeated on the following morning, she decided to inform her mother.
Maeli was not at his house when officers went looking for him. His wife told officers that Maeli was driving his taxi and he sometimes sleeps over at the taxi stand. Officers tried to locate Maeli but he was nowhere to be found.
Last month, Maeli was apprehended at his younger brother’s house in Kokoland and was transported to the Tafuna Police Substation for questioning. Before he was transported to the TPS, he was patted down and officers discovered a glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth, containing white crystalline substance in Maeli’s pocket.
Officers also searched Maeli’s vehicle and discovered one hand rolled marijuana joint inside the vehicle.
When questioned by investigators regarding the alleged sexual abuse incident, Maeli said it was the victim who asked him to come to her room early in the morning so they could talk. He further claims that it was the victim who forced him to touch her body in a sexual manner. According to Maeli, he felt bad about what happened between him and the victim, because the victim’s family treats him like a family member.
When questioned about the drugs found in his possession and in his vehicle, Maeli said the drugs belonged to a passenger. He told investigators that he picked up a male passenger from Iliili and dropped him at the Laufou Shopping Center. After the passenger exited his vehicle, he observed something lying on the floor under the passenger’s seat.
He picked it up and opened it, and discovered it was a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance and one marijuana joint. He put the glass pipe in his pocket and left the marijuana on the floor under the passenger’s seat.