12 sex related charges dropped against juvie police officer
District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia has dismissed 12 sex related charges including 10 counts of rape against Public Safety officer, Okesene Alo, one of the four officers, assigned to the Juvenile Detention Center, charged with various crimes over alleged misconduct at JDC.
Sunia’s decision followed a lengthy preliminary examination hearing for Alo, who was originally charged with 35 counts — 28 of them are felonies including 10 counts of rape, one count each of aiding and abetting of a rape (when the defendant allegedly put a female and male detainee inside a cell to have sexual contact), deviate sexual assault and first degree sexual abuse.
Following yesterday’s hearing Sunia dismissed all of the sex related counts and one felony count of witness tempering.
In dismissing 14 felony counts, Sunia says the court was “not satisfied” with the evidence presented by the government for probable cause that a crime was committed.
The government called one witness to the stand; police Det. Filemoni Amituna’i, who led the investigation, handed to him in late November last year by then Police Commissioner Save Liuato Tuitele.
The court did uphold 14 other felony counts 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.
The court also upheld the 7 misdemeanor charges and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
After the 14 felony counts were dismissed Sunia then reduced Alo’s bail from $200,000 to $50,000 but the government objected saying that based on the evidence from witnesses, the defendant is the alleged “ring leader” and sought to keep the high bail amount.
However, Sunia says that the court’s decision is based on evidence before him.
Sunia then bound over to High Court, the remaining charges against the defendant, who is scheduled for arraignment next week Wednesday, where he will enter a plea.
In the Nov. 14, 2016 ‘Drug Incidents in Juvenile Detention Center by On-Duty Officers’ report, prepared by the JDC supervisor and submitted to then Police Commissioner Save Liuato Tuitele, there are many allegations pointing fingers at Alo and the role he played with drug use by the four charged officers as well as certain juvenile detainees at JDC. (See Samoa News edition Apr. 3.)
However, the report didn’t mention any allegations of rape of a minor or any sexual contact between Alo and a minor. The report did say that Alo had allowed a male and female detainee inside a cell late at night, but the male and female juveniles “didn’t have sex”.
Samoa News will report next week on other details from the preliminary examination hearing. See today’s Lali section of Samoa News for Samoan story