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Taxi driver arrested for alleged sexual abuse of 9-year-old girl

[SN file photo]

Police arrested a 66-year-old taxi driver from Pago Pago on Sunday night, for allegedly sexually abusing a 9-year-old girl. The taxi driver is one of the tenants at a rental house-building in Pago Pago, where the victim and her family also stay.

Pitone Sivatia made his initial appearance in District Court on Monday before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia.

He’s been charged with two criminal counts including sexual abuse in the first degree, a class D felony; and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.

Sunia set a $5,000 surety bond for Sivatia; and if he can post bond, he is to abide with several court conditions, including no direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim in this case. He is also ordered to surrender his travel documents to the government’s attorney.

Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson is the attorney for Sivatia while Gillian Sandler is prosecuting. Sivatia is scheduled to appear in court on Friday this week for his preliminary examination hearing (PX)).

According to the government’s case, an off-duty officer reported the matter on Sunday night, January 28th around 23:15 p.m. — asking the Department of Public Safety (DPS) main office in Fagatogo for assistance, regarding a possible sexual abuse case involving a 9-year-old girl.

When the two police officers arrived at the scene and met up with the off-duty officer — the reporter — together with the alleged victim and her mother. According to the government’s case, defendant Sivatia is the victim’s neighbor, and he was still inside his house when police arrived.

The victim was interviewed by the two police officers in the presence of her mother.

The victim told police that one of her neighbors (a male guy, named Tusi) asked her to go to the defendant’s house and ask to borrow .50 cents to buy him soda. When she went over to the Sivatia’s house, he met her at the door and asked her to come inside.

The victim told police that when she went inside the house, Sivatia escorted her to his bedroom — asking her to come into his bedroom and close the door behind her. He then gave her .50 cents and asked her to come closer. She said she felt uncomfortable and told him that she was going to leave.

According to the government’s case, Sivatia allegedly grabbed her by her left arm and began touching/ rubbing her body through her clothing — starting from her private parts and upward to her breasts.

She tried to escape because she could smell alcohol inside Sivatia’s bedroom and she also saw empty cans of beer in the trash bin. She knew that something was weird with Sivatia with the way he was acting.

The affidavit noted that while police officers were interviewing the alleged victim, she was confident about all the information she shared, but when she got to the part where she mentioned the touching she began tearing up.

When questioned by police, the mother of the alleged victim said that she was aware of the situation, but her daughter had waited until her mother’s friend came home and then informed her of what happened.

The mother also told police that this was not the first incident with her family involving Sivatia.

She said there was an incident that occurred a year ago in which Sivatia also sexually abused her older daughter, but it was not reported, because both parties decided to settle the matter privately.

After he was arrested and Mirandized, Sivatia agreed to write a statement concerning the alleged incident.

According to the defendant, he does not know if the alleged victim came to his room, and he never saw this 9-year-old girl at his house the entire day. He told police that no one came to him to borrow .50 cents.

He said the only people that came to his house were his niece who came to drop off food in the morning, and his other niece who came by his house in the evening to hang out.

Sivatia told police that he does not recall any time the alleged victim came to his house to borrow money to buy soda.

He also told police that he had alcoholic beverages (beer) left from Saturday and decided to drink it all on Sunday morning and finished drinking around the afternoon.