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Underage female survives alleged sex assault & attempt to strangle her


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On April 16, 2024, a concerned mother called Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to report a young woman seeking help at her residence in Iliili.

The suspect, Josiah Pepe, aka “Joker” was later apprehended and charged with the following:

Count 1: Assault in the First Degree — a class B felony punishable by imprisonment for not less than five (5) years, and not more than fifteen (15) years;

Count 2: Felonious Restraint — a class C felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than seven (7) years, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both;

Count 3: Rape — a class B felony punishable by imprisonment of not less than five (5) years and not more than fifteen (15) years;

Count 4: Sodomy — a class B felony punishable by imprisonment of not less than five (5) years and not more than fifteen (15) years; and,

Count 5: Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than one (1) year, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.

No bail is granted, according to the affidavit.

(The affidavit does not identify the victim by name, who is 17 years old and underage. The defendant is named in the affidavit.)

On April 16, according to the affidavit, around 9:00 a.m, a woman contacted the TPS to report a 17 year-old girl seeking help at her residence in Iliili. Police officers responded to the call and upon arrival met with the reporter/ caller at her home in Iliili. She was with a young Polynesian female, later identified as the victim.

As officers approached the minor (victim) she was visibly injured and limping towards the officers with dirt on her arms and legs. The victim’s hair was unkempt, containing leaves, and her skirt was stained with what appeared to be dried blood. In addition, officers also observed marks on her neck consistent with strangulation.

According to the victim, it was on the night of April 15, 2024 between 10:00 p.m and 11:00 p.m, while waiting for a ride in front of Futiga’s Tini Lam Yuen’s Funeral Home. She encountered two individuals walking towards her. Upon inquiry, they mentioned they were heading home.

Later, these same individuals returned, one whose name was “Muka” allegedly offered her methamphetamine, which she declined.

Subsequently, another individual, later identified as Josiah Pepe or “Joker” engaged her in a conversation and offered her company at his place. The victim stated she first refused, but eventually accepted after reassurances from the suspect.

The victim stated they proceeded to Pepe’s house, where she asked to use the bathroom. Afterward, while playing cards and conversing in the kitchen, Pepe suggested smoking cigarettes outside, which they did twice. Later on, when she was tired, she laid down on the couch while the suspect laid on the nearby bed.

During the night, she woke up twice. The first time, she found Pepe going through her phone and later to find him standing over her, which she found odd.

The victim further stated she drifted back to sleep but woke up again feeling as though she was being suffocated only to find out she was being strangled by the suspect. The victim stated her memory ceased after that moment.

Upon waking the next day, she found herself in pain, partially buried under branches and logs, partially undressed, prompting her to flee and seek help.

When officers asked the victim to locate the suspect’s residence, the victim led the officers to the scene. The search of the residence yielded no sign of the suspect and the house appeared vacant and locked. As officers prepared to depart, the suspect unexpectedly emerged from the driveway prompting recognition from the victim. The suspect was immediately apprehended and transported to the TPS for further investigation.

Upon arrival at the station, the suspect was Mirandized where he agreed to give a statement pertaining to the incident.

The suspect stated that the house belongs to his girlfriend and he was responsible for its upkeep. When asked about the events of April 16, he explained that around 3:00 a.m, he and his friend returned from Futiga en route to Iliili. They encountered a girl sitting alone in front of the Tini Lam Yuen Funeral Home. He checked on her wellbeing and after receiving an affirmative response they continued to his house in Iliili. After he ate with his friend he escorted his friend halfway home. Upon his return, he found the girl still sitting at the funeral home and invited her to his house to relax.

The suspect explained that on their way to the house, he complimented the victim on her appearance. Upon arrival, the victim asked to use the bathroom while he waited in the kitchen. After her return, they spent about thirty minutes chatting in the kitchen, during which he reiterated his compliments and expressed concern about her being alone at the funeral home. They went outside afterwards to smoke before returning indoors where he suggested they relax in the living room. As she sat on the couch, the victim began to doze off.

Furthermore, the suspect stated that as the victim was dozing off, he went and sat next to her and asked her if they could have sex and she refused. He then asked her a couple more times and still she said “no”.

When she fell asleep a few minutes later, the suspect stated he positioned himself at the edge of the couch, facing downwards towards her. He then leaned over her head and strangled her with both hands. Moreover, as the victim lost consciousness, he observed blood coming from her mouth, which he wiped with her skirt, staining it. In addition, the suspect used both palms and struck her jaw area. The suspect stated that when he was sure that she was unconscious, he removed the victim’s clothes and performed sexual acts on her and raped the victim about five times.

The suspect explained that after dressing the victim he then carried her from the living room to the back door of the house. Upon reaching the door, he set her down due to her weight. After taking a short rest, he continued by pulling her towards the backyard by her hands. As fatigue set in, he continued pulling her by her legs and upon reaching a cleared area in the backyard he halted just before the entrance into the bushes. Bending down, he used both hands and pushed her towards a ditch and left her there.

When questioned about his motives, the suspect confessed that his actions stemmed from anger because he desired to have sexual intercourse but was refused by the victim. His rejection motivated him to carry out his plan.

Upon arrival at the EMS, they conducted an assessment of the victim and suggested she be transported to the LBJ Hospital for further evaluation by the LBJ doctors. While at the hospital, the victim was evaluated and treated, where she was later released back home.

“Victim’s result could not be disclosed unless a medical request is forwarded to the LBJ Record’s office,” the affidavit states.