Court upholds three felony sex charges against Okesene Alo
by Samoa News staff
Following a preliminary examination hearing yesterday morning, District Court Judge Fiti Sunia found probable cause that a crime was committed and upheld three felony sex charges against Public Safety officer, Okesene Alo, who is now scheduled to be arraigned in High Court on Friday.
Based on court information, the three sex related charges against Alo, who is one of the four public safety officers assigned to the Juvenile Detention Center charged with alleged misconduct including illegal drugs, are: rape, first degree sexual abuse and deviate sexual assault.
As previously reported by Samoa News, Alo was initially charged with 35 counts in connection with alleged illegal activities he was involved in at the JDC between April and November of last year.
Of the total counts, 28 of them are felonies including 12 counts connecting to sexual acts against two female minors. However, the 12 counts, including several counts of rape, were later dismissed in District Court due to the lack of evidence.
More than two weeks ago, the government re-filed the same counts that were dismissed and Alo was in District Court yesterday for his PX. Sharron Rancourt represented the defendant and assistant attorney general Kristy Dunn prosecuted the case.
The government called one witness, Police Det. Filemoni Amituana’i, who conducted the investigation. Amituana’i testified that two female juveniles were in JDC custody between May and August last year. The two females are identified in police report as Victim #4, who is 14 years old, and the other is 15 years old, identified as Victim #1.
Amituana’i said the two juveniles were questioned during investigation and Victim #4 told him that around May 21, 2016 the defendant allegedly let her out of the room at JDC and the pair went outside to smoke. It was during that time, that the defendant allegedly started sexual contact with her, starting with kissing, touching her private parts and then sexual intercourse.
Recalling what Victim #4 told him, Amituana’i alleges that the defendant had sexual intercourse with the victim, more than 10 times, between May and August last year, at different locations at JDC. Those locations included the food storage room and the cafeteria.
Amituana’i said Victim #1 and Victim #4 were housed in the same room and Victim #1 supported Victim #4’s statements about sexual contact with the defendant.
The three sexual crimes against the defendant is in connection with Victim #4, while sex charges relating to Victim #1, were dismissed by the court, due to the lack of probable cause that a crime was committed.
Amituana’i testified that another police investigator interviewed Victim #1, who turned over the information to Amituana’i to put together the police report regarding Alo. However, the government wasn’t able to provide proof on the date and time that Alo allegedly had sexual contact with Victim #1.
Rancourt argued that the government’s case is based on hearsay without solid evidence. Additionally, it was another police investigator who interviewed Victim #1.
Alo, who’s bail has been reduced from $50,000 to $15,000 was still unable to post bail, will appear in High Court tomorrow, Friday for his arraignment hearing on the three sex charges bound over from District Court.
The defendant already has other charges against him in High Court from the same JDC case. Last month, Alo pled not guilty to 14 felonies including 4 counts of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; 4 counts of unlawful distribution of methamphetamine; three counts of aiding the escape of a prisoner; and three counts of permitting the escape of a prisoner.
He is also charged with 7 misdemeanor charges four counts of endangering the welfare of a child. His pre-trial conference is set for June 30, with trial for June 2018.
(See Samoan story in today’s edition)