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14-yr-old tells police her dad’s best friend sexually abused her — Defendant says it’s all a set-up

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The case against a married man accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl was filed in District Court last week. Sapena Anesi, 45, made his initial appearance last week. He is charged with two counts of first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony; and two class A misdemeanors: third degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Bond is set at $10,000 and a preliminary examination is next Tuesday.

Despite the severity of the allegations against his client, Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson asked for bail reduction or otherwise, release Anesi on his own recognizance. Anderson argued that the case is based on allegations only. He said Anesi is a first time offender who has been a taxi driver for many years, and who claims that everything is a set-up.

Prosecutor Jason Mitchell objected to both motions, saying the allegations are serious and it is the government's duty to protect the young victim. He said the bail amount is reasonable and Anesi must be ordered not to make any contact with the victim.

The court agreed and bail remains at $10,000.

If released on bond, Anesi is to abide by standard conditions, in addition to finding someplace else to stay, as the alleged crime took place in the same compound where Anesi, and the victim and her family reside.


On the morning of Sept. 18th, the mother of the alleged victim called police to report that her 14-year-old daughter had been sexually abused by her father’s best friend, whom they consider ‘family’.

The minor victim was interviewed by police in the presence of her mother. Her father was unaware of the situation because he was at work when the alleged incident occurred. The victim told  police that she was asleep the previous evening when she was awoken by someone massaging her left breast. She said at first, she thought it was a dream.

 She said when she woke up, she saw Anesi kneeling next to her head, touching her head and her body. Anesi whispered to her to be quiet and not make a sound, adding that he wanted to spend time with her. The victim said she screamed and yelled out for her dad. Anesi then stood up ran out, started his vehicle, which was parked in front of his house — and left the premises.

The victim claims that this was not the first time Anesi had done this to her. According to her, one night while sitting in front of her house, she felt someone touching her breast from behind. She said she turned around and saw Anesi standing behind her. When she asked about what he did, Anesi laughed without saying a word.

According to the victim, Anesi was drunk that night.

On a separate occasion, said the victim, she was sleeping when she felt something heavy on her. She said she woke up and saw Anesi trying to lie on top on her. She said she pushed him and yelled out to her family, causing Anesi to run out and head back to his house. The government claims that there were times when Anesi confronted the victim and gave her money, which the victim did not accept.

According to the victim’s mother, it was her 17-year-old daughter who caught Anesi inside the victim’s room on the night of a prior incident.

When interviewed by police, the victim’s older sister said that sometime last month, at  around 5a.m., she awoke and went to use the bathroom. When she returned, she was shocked to see Anesi kneeling next to her sister’s bed, and Anesi was equally surprised to see her opening the door to her sister’s room.

The witness told police that she didn’t say a word, she just stood at the door and looked at Anesi, who then pretended that he was looking for his car keys. A few moments later, Anesi stood up and walked away, started his vehicle and left.

The victim’s older sister said she had a bad feeling that Anesi had tried to do something bad to her sister that morning, but also thought it was not possible because he’s like an uncle to them. However, when Anesi’s actions were repeated on the early morning of Sept. 18th, she decided to inform her mother.

When questioned by police, Anesi said it was the victim who asked him to come to her room early in the morning so they can talk. He further claims that it was the victim who forced him to touch her body in a sexual manner. According to Anesi, he felt bad about what happened between him and the victim, because the victim’s family treats him like a family member.