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Barlow files new application for a pardon after no action from Gov Lolo

American Samoa High Court building
With no relief last year — Barlow turns to Gov. Lemanu

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The attorney for former Territorial Correctional Facility inmate, James Glenn Barlow has filed an application for pardon, with Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Mauga, who was informed that this is the second request, as the first one was submitted in the Spring of 2020 to former Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who took no action.

The Apr. 20th application was accompanied by a letter of support from Barlow’s Hawaii-based attorney Bentley C. Adams III, outlining background details of the reason behind the application for pardon, and that the veteran educator was sentenced in 2014 by the High Court of American Samoa to serve a 24-year jail term at TCF for a conviction in a case involving three male juveniles.

After serving one-third of his prison term, the American Samoa Parole Board granted Barlow’s parole on Oct. 20 last year and he departed the territory on Oct. 26th on the medical charter heading to Honolulu and is now living in California.

“A respected teacher at the American Samoa Community College at the time of his arrest, Barlow was accused and convicted of providing beer to and having inappropriate sexual contact with three teenage Tongan boys,” Adams wrote to Lemanu.

“The teenagers themselves have repeatedly denied anything sexual happened. The case record itself raises considerable doubt as to Mr. Barlow’s guilt,” Adams said and provided sets of evidence for Lemanu.

The first is a June 24, 2020 affidavit by Leslie J. Cardin, who was employed as an assistant public defender for the territory at the time. Cardin accused Terrie Bullinger, former prosecutor, who handled juvenile cases with the Attorney General’s Office a few years ago, of misconduct by holding secret interviews with three juvenile who were victims in the government case against Barlow. (See Samoa News edition July 21, 2020 for details on allegations against Bullinger.)

Adams informed Lemanu that the Cardin’s affidavit details the “misconduct” of Bullinger who had a “personal grudge” against Barlow that was “motivated in large part by an apparent prejudice against Mr. Barlow based on his perceived sexual orientation.”

Cardin represented the teenagers on the underage alcohol possession charges and she “had extensive professional and personal experience with the prosecutor in question,” said Adams.

As reported by Samoa News last December, Adams had submitted Cardin’s affidavit to former Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga. Cardin’s affidavit was filed with the federal court in Washington D.C. in Barlow’s habeas corpus case against the US Secretary of Interior challenging his conviction in the High Court of American Samoa.

Cardin’s affidavit also triggered a complaint by the defense filed with the US Secretary of Interior against the local Attorney General’s Office, whose attorneys were accused of “deliberately” concealing inconsistent statements made by Barlow’s “alleged victims”.

Adams asked that Lemanu “should consider the Cardin evidence that the teenagers all told her there was no sexual conduct by Mr. Barlow.”

Cardin’s account of Bullinger’s “bias and discriminatory intent is extremely troubling. It has the riing of truth which cannot be easily disregarded,” said Adams.

Also submitted to the governor is a Nov. 8, 2013 affidavit from Barlow’s housekeeper at the time of the alleged crime — and this evidence, said Adams, “provides contemporaneous confirmation of the facts in the Cardin affidavit.” (Samoa News had previously covered the affidavit, which was filed with the High Court proceedings in Barlow’s case.)

Following the 2020 US presidential and American Samoa gubernatorial elections, Barlow in January this year decided to dismiss his pending habeas corpus action at the federal court in Washington D.C. He hoped that a new administration and a new US Secretary of Interior “would take a fresh, fair, and unbiased look at his case,” Adams wrote, noting that the proceeding can be re-filed within a year if necessary.

While Barlow is no longer a prison, “he is far from free. He continues to suffer the stigma from this conviction. The terms of his parole states federal law requires him to register as a sex offender. He has done so,” Adams pointed out.

“As a registered sex offender Mr. Barlow is effectively precluded from pursing his life-long work as a teacher of young adults at the college level,” Adams said. “He is also prohibited from living near or visiting certain areas. Scores of former students and associates have attested to his dedication and commitment as an educator.”

Adams points out that there has never been any suggestion that Barlow has behaved in any inappropriate way in his performance of those duties.

“The undisputed truth is that this man honorably served the people of American Samoa for years as a faithful and respected teacher at the ASCC,” he said.

According to the attorney, Chief Justice Michael Kruse, who presided over Barlow’s trial, ruled that Cardin was prohibited by attorney-client privilege from disclosing what the teenagers told her was clearly erroneous.  Barlow also appealed his case with the Appellant Division of the High Court, and lost.

“The is considerable doubt as to Mr. Barlow’s guilt in this case,” his attorney said and noted that the fairness of the local trial and appeal process afforded Barlow “is questionable”.

He said the punishment imposed on Barlow “was grossly disproportionate to that routinely meted out by the local court system to other offenders who have committed more egregious sexual offenses.”

According to Adams, Barlow is agreeable to a withdrawal of his complaint for prosecutorial misconduct against the local AG’s Office filed with the US Secretary of Interior if he is granted pardon.

Adams argued that granting Barlow’s pardon “is the right thing to do”.

“I respectfully urge the Governor to give Mr. Barlow’s application for a pardon favorable consideration as soon as possible,” he wrote to Lemanu. “It is imperative that you act to correct this manifest miscarriage of justice.”

Copies of Adam’s letter, which was sent out Tuesday via the US Postal Service, is copied to the new US Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland; Jason Mitchell, legal counsel to the Governor; Attorney General Fainu’ulelei Falefatu Ala’ilima Utu, James Barlow and Samoa News — which has provided extensive news coverage on this story since December 2019 and throughout last year, as developments occurred.