Repeat sexual offender will serve 7 years behind bars
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 28-year-old man convicted of raping a young girl in his vehicle will serve 7 years in jail. Ioane Alataua Jr appeared in court last week for sentencing where he apologized and begged for a second chance to return home to care for his mother, who lives alone.
Alataua Jr has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $35,000 surety bond.
Prior to sentencing, a Probation Revocation Hearing was called, because Alataua Jr violated conditions of his probation from a previous conviction in 2015.
Defense attorney Rob McNeill told the court his client admits he violated conditions of probation when he failed to remain law abiding. As a result, he was convicted of deviate sexual assault, for which he is being sentenced.
When given the chance to speak, Alataua Jr apologized to the court, his village, his mother, and especially the victim and her family for his actions. He said he and his mom are the only two in their home. “My mother is not here in court today because of her health… but I know for sure she’s praying for me and my case. Please, grant me a chance to go back home and be with my mother,” Alataua Jr said.
McNeill said his client has been convicted of a serious crime, but he’s remorseful. He asked that whatever sentence is handed down for the two cases, that the punishments run concurrently.
Prosecutor Doug Lowe pointed out that this is the second time the defendant has been convicted of a sex crime. “He did this twice and it’s the same allegation and conviction. In his new case, he did it without the victim’s consent. It’s a serious offense and the defendant deserves the maximum sentence as required by law,” Lowe told the court.
He also asked the court to order Alataua Jr to depart the territory upon release from detention, because he was born in Samoa. But the court noted that according to a report from Immigration, the defendant is an American Samoa citizen, due to his “one parent status”.
“Now, it has already been said that this is your second conviction for the same offense, which is of a sexual nature,” the court said. “For your first case back in 2015 where you were convicted of first degree sexual abuse, the court gave you a break. You were 24-years old at the time, and already an adult. And here we are, 4 years later, you’ve committed a similar offense.”
For the new case, where Alataua Jr was convicted of deviate sexual assault, a class D felony, the court sentenced him to 7 years imprisonment. For the first case, Alataua Jr has admitted to a probation violation. The court has revoked probation and ordered him to serve 5 years in jail, with credit for time served.
This means Alataua Jr has to serve 12 years at the TCF.
“The question is now before the court…if you’re going to serve these two sentences consecutively at TCF, 12 years is a long time, “ said the court, which noted that they considered the defendant’s age and compared his cases with similar ones they’ve heard.
“Having considered all the facts, we feel that you’re going to serve your two sentences concurrently, meaning, you’re going to jail for 7 years, not 12 years. You will also appear before the Parole Board - in the future - for your hearing.”
Alataua Jr is also ordered to register as a sex offender, and undergo mandatory HIV testing as required by law.
In 2015, Alataua Jr was convicted of first degree sexual abuse, and ordered to serve 20 months at TCF, as a condition of his 5-year probation. Alataua Jr was having sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl.
Three years later while was on probation, he was arrested Nov. 31, 2018 for raping a 17-year-old girl in his vehicle. He was subsequently charged with 4 felonies. In October 2019, Alataua Jr entered into a plea agreement with the government and pled guilty to deviate sexual assault. The remaining charges were dismissed.
Alataua Jr admitted he picked up the victim from her aunty’s home in Leone and drove her to Ottoville. He invited the victim into his home, saying there was something they needed to discuss. But the victim refused. The conversation took place in the vehicle, with Alataua Jr asking the victim if they could have sex. The girl said no, citing her age and not wanting to get pregnant.
Alataua Jr grabbed the girl’s hands, pulled her close to him, and told her they were going to make love, all the while, the victim refused and tried to push him away. The two scuffled for awhile until Alataua Jr raped the girl. Afterwards, Alataua Jr told the victim not to tell anyone what happened. He gave her $100 and promised her he will continue to support her and her family if she keeps their sexual relationship a secret.