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Dear Editor,

Two ranking senior police officers were named and accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by two female police officers. The two police victims initiated Police Reports immediately on the days each incident happened. The PRs were processed and signed by CID investigators Poutoa Iamanu and Senior CID Pou T. Supapo.

Against all odds these young women have struggled to file their grievances. 

June 2017

The first police officer was sexually harassed and assaulted in a police vehicle by her 61-year-old partner. He was the 'Senior Public Safety Officer' for the Fagaitua Sub Station.

A Senior CID officer also coerced the victim to not file criminal charges; and in return she was promised the SPSO would be disciplined if she would allow the case to be handled internally.

The victim reported she was bullied, scolded and harassed by Deputy Commissioner Sagapolutele. When the victim wouldn’t back off, the Deputy threatened to charge her for disrespect in accusing the office of being corrupt. The original police report vanished from the filing room. Commissioner Le’i Thompson closed the case.

 March 16, 2018

Another female police officer — this time in CID — was sexually assaulted by the 63-year-old male Commander LT. of the Tafuna Station. She also was assaulted on duty. This case went up the chain of command. Commissioner Le’i, Deputy Commissioner Sagapolutele, Deputy Commissioner Maiava and the Chief of Police conducted interviews.

Four days later the Commissioner rendered the disciplinary action of 5 days leave without pay and the case was closed.

Is this the kind of leadership American Samoa wants in DPS?

The Commissioner, his two seasoned deputies, the accused SPSO from Fagaitua Substation and the Commander for the Tafuna Substation, all hold power within the DPS. They also hold prominent positions in church and carry distinguished and honorary chief titles in the Samoan culture.

According to a brief conversation I had with the Assistant AG 4/15/18, the independent investigator’s results will determine if there is enough evidence or probable cause to charge.

However, I was perplexed with her advice when asked about the EEO office. I was told at this point it would make no difference if the victims’ complaint were filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity office (EEO). Since when did the Attorney General’s office speak for the EEO?

With all respect and honor to these individuals, I am calling out to our First Lady Cynthia Moliga, Congresswoman Aumua Amata, the wives of the members of the House of Representatives and the spouses of the honorable Senators. I call out to the mamalu of the faletuas of the religious institutions. I call out for your wisdom, counsel, support and compassion for our victimized women in the homes and workforce.

Your silence in the face of this formidable adversary feeds the ego and arrogance of our oppressors. We need your voices within the homes, community, churches and work places. We need the presence of your voices to comfort and breathe hope to the wounded, rejected and the defeated. You are our hope for the future of womanhood.

The law of human decency, the Samoan cultural laws that protect the dignity and honor of women, and the laws of our religious faiths are being violated by these men.

 Before the arrival of missionaries; the signing of the deed of cessation and before the word 'Human Rights' came to our shores, the women of Samoa were born with a fa'alupega . These titles were given to the women by our forefathers.

Ie: Se'etalaluma, auga fa'apae, i'o i mata o tuagane, pae ma le auli, feagaiga and taupou. (Our Samoan culture protects women, and reveres their nuclei role in the family.)

These violated women are our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and granddaughters. They have been stripped of their pride and dignity. They have been and are being used and treated as objects. They have been shamed, threatened, scorned and mocked. They are branded as troublemakers and disrespectful miscreants for fighting back. These victims are now easy targets to have fabricated charges made against them to be terminated.

It appears there is a haven for predators — sanctioned by the Police Commissioner. He has surrounded himself with like-minded officers creating a lawless perverted subculture.

When Commissioner Le’i condones sexual harassment and sexual assault, women are being forced to surrender and engage in these vile acts within the police force. That also includes the victimization of young male officers.

As long as these men are kept in power by the institutions and community, the predators will thrive with arrogance and ripen in their perversion.

I would like to see these issues worthy enough to be discussed by the Fono, Samoan Affairs Office and the religious institutions. 

Talofa i ia tama'ita'i. Ua, fa'amataga ma faato'ilaloina. Ua lafoai e saei e manu feai o loo o'ofu i togina a le malu ole malo”. These poor women have been humiliated, shamed and thrown out to be torn apart by animals clothed in Public Safety uniforms. The very men who are sworn to keep the peace and  protect the public.

I encourage the silent victims of sexual harassment and assault in the work place to make a stand against these behaviors. You who are witnessing and are indirectly affected by these behaviors, stop the harassment. Power is in stopping and reporting the abuse — shame is enabling the offenders by agreeing and concealing the crime.

Ipu Avegalio Lefiti