Over-stayer from Samoa sentenced for sexual contact with 5-year-old

reporters@samoanews.com

An over-stayer from Samoa, accused of having sexual contact with a five-year-old girl, has been sentenced to a 5-year stay in prison, off of a 15-year probation sentence, while the Chief Justice continues to draw attention to Immigration’s apparent inability to stop over staying by people entering the territory on permits, and then committing crimes, which in this case, is against a child.

Muaiga Siatiu, aka Povi, was charged with one count each of child molestation, sodomy, deviated sexual assault, first- degree sexual abuse — all misdemeanors — and the misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child.

The most serious of the felony counts is child molestation, a Class A felony, punishable by imprisonment of at least 10 years, according to court documents.

Siatiu, who is from Fagatogo, was visiting the victim’ s family at a village on the east side of the island on Dec. 10 when he committed the sexual act against a five-year-old girl by touching her private parts.

The victim was taken to LBJ Medical Center to be checked, according to court documents, but it didn’t provide any other information.

When confronted by police, the defendant allegedly admitted to putting his finger inside the victim’s private parts.

Under a plea agreement with the government, and accepted by the court, the defendant pled guilty to sodomy. He has been in custody unable to post a $22,000 bond.

Two days after his arrest last December, Povi was allegedly assaulted by two other inmates at the Territorial Correctional Facility, resulting in him being transferred to a holding cell at the Central Police Station for his safety.

The defendant, who entered the territory on a 14-day permit early last year, was in High Court yesterday for sentencing where he apologized to the victim and her family as well as asking for their forgiveness. He also apologized to the court and the people of American Samoa for his crime.

He sought leniency that would allow him to return home to Samoa to care for his family. He also requested the court to continue its previous order, which allowed him to be held in custody at the holding cell at the Fagatogo police station because TCF remains unsafe for him. Both the defense and government sought a probative sentence with Public Defender Douglas Fiaui arguing that the defendant is remorseful and has learned a lesson from what happened.
He also noted that his client has suffered injuries to his face following the assault by inmates last December.

Assistant Attorney General Robert Morris requested that the probative sentence include a court order for the defendant to return to Samoa.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse said the court still has questions and among them is why the defendant entered the territory under a 14-day permit and how he ended up overstaying in American Samoa, resulting in him committing this crime against a child.

Kruse said the court continues to be faced with this problem of foreigners entering the territory under a permit and then remaining in the territory illegally.

He said the safety and welfare of the 5-year-old victim was put in jeopardy because the defendant remained in the territory illegally.

Kruse then told Morris to “tell your boss” about these problems that continue to surface from the Immigration Office.

(The Attorney General oversees the Immigration Office).

The defendant was then sentenced to 15 years probation, under several conditions including that he serve a 5-year prison term.

Upon completion of the jail term, he is to depart the territory immediately and remain outside of American Samoa during the probation period. He’s to serve his sentence at the police station holding cell.

Siatiu was also ordered to register as a sex offender and take an HIV test, as required under local laws, for those convicted of these types of crimes.

Kruse also directed that the court’s order and decision be given to the Immigration Office.

The Chief Justice said the government must know that problems of foreigners coming here and then remaining here illegally, and then committing crimes, affect the safety and well-being of children and the people of American Samoa.

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