Security guard gets 12 months probation for dragging a 9-yr-old
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “You came here to entertain our children — not to harm or put them in danger.”
This was the clear message from District Court Judge Fiti Sunia to the Magic Circus of Samoa security guard, who was convicted of endangering the welfare of a 9-year-old child by dragging him on the ground, causing injuries to his body.
Teodore Sefo Willie, who has been in custody since his arrest Sept. 30th was originally charged with endangering the welfare of a child, third degree assault, and public peace disturbance — all class A misdemeanors. However, under a plea agreement with the government, Willie pled guilty to endangering the welfare of a child. The remaining charges were dismissed.
Willie appeared in court last week for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell.
Both parties recommended a probated sentence, and asked the court to order the defendant to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his probation. Furthermore, the defense asked the court to sentence Willie to time served, which is 40 days.
Sunia asked the government’s attorney to tell the court what happened the night of the incident.
According to the court affidavit, a woman called police on Sept. 30th around 10:20 p.m to report that an intoxicated man was yelling profanities at her family. She also told police that her young son sustained injuries to his mouth as a result of the man’s actions.
When police arrived at the scene, they observed a crowd of people in front of the victim’s house. On the opposite side of the road in Nu’uuli, another group of people were trying to calm down a male who was yelling profanities in Samoan. That male was later identified as Willie.
Eyewitnesses told police that Willie was heavily intoxicated, walking on the road, and yelling profanities. Furthermore, he pulled a little child from inside his house and dragged him on the ground, causing injuries to his body and mouth.
Sunia said that according to information from the immigration office, Willie entered American Samoa on a 30-day permit, as a member of the Magic Circus of Samoa group, for which he works as a security guard.
“This defendant is a stranger to this child. He does not know this child nor the child’s family. Luckily, people who saw his actions interfered and stopped him while he was dragging this young child,” Sunia said.
According to Sunia, the defendant entered American Samoa on a 30-day permit as an employee of the Magic Circus of Samoa. When the court ordered the bond in the amount of $500 to release the defendant, neither the defendant’s employer nor the sponsor bothered to pay it.
“The Magic Circus of Samoa is gone. The employer is gone, leaving this defendant behind. No one bothered to pay the bond,” Sunia said.
Judge Sunia said there’s a lot the court needs to say about this case, especially to those who were involved; however, the court will not comment more about the case.
The only thing Judge Sunia pointed out was the fact that Willie came to American Samoa to work; and now, the employer is gone and abandoned him in the territory for 41 days. He slept at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), using our local tax payers' money to feed him, to pay for the room he slept in while in custody, and also to pay for the electricity and water.
“You’re not a resident of this territory nor a tax payer, but you come here and cause harm to this young child,” Sunia told the defendant.
“You came here to entertain our children — not to harm or put them in danger. Luckily, there were people who stopped your actions. You did not know this young child but you put his life in danger when you pulled him and dragged him on the ground.”
Sunia sentenced Willie to 12 months imprisonment. Execution of the sentence is suspended and Willie is placed on probation for 12 months, subject to special conditions that include him departing the territory immediately and remaining outside of its border during the probation period.
“The court will not order a fine. Who is going to pay for this defendant’s fine if his employer has already left the island? This is funny to the court. He (employer) came here to make money and now he’s gone,” Sunia said.
He then turned to the government’s attorney and asked, “Mitchell, who is going to pay for food, the electricity, the water, the house this defendant has access to?”
Samoa News understands that Willie left the island last Friday. He had a return ticket to Samoa.