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Court asks where man accused of sexually abusing his niece would live if released on bond

American Samoa High Court building

by Ausage Fausia

Samoa News Reporter

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 35-year-old man has been accused of sexual abusing his 16-year-old niece. The government claims that the defendant is related to the victim’s mother.

The alleged incident happened two months ago was reported to police when the alleged victim told her mother what happened. The victim told police that the alleged sexual abuse incident happened at the defendant’s sister’s home when she went there to hang out with the defendant’s sister’s children.

The defendant was at his sister’s house preparing food for a family dinner.

The victim told investigators that she was in the living room watching television with her young cousins when the defendant, who was in the kitchen called out to her to come. When she got to where her uncle was, he instructed her to put the dishes in the sink and help him with the cooking.

While she was washing dishes, the victim told police that she suddenly felt someone touching her shoulders. She immediately turned around and saw her uncle standing behind her with both of his hands around her body. She tried to move, but he whispered to her, “Just act normal and continue on doing what you’re doing.”

The victim told police that after the defendant whispered to her, he then moved his hand to her chest touching her breast from outside of her clothes, then moving down to her private parts. She then moved away from him and ran off to her house.

The victim reported the alleged incident to her mother when she came back after work, and that is when he mother contacted police for assistance.

The government says the defendant was under the influence of alcohol when he was arrested by police; and he refused to make a statement to the police, nor would he cooperate when he was questioned about the alleged incident.

The defendant made his initial appearance in District Court last week, where he waived his rights to a preliminary examination, and his case was bound over to the High Court for further proceedings. District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea set bail for the defendant at $15,000.

However, during his arraignment in High Court last Friday, after the defendant entered a plea of not guilty to all three charges against him, the court scheduled a bond hearing for the defendant for this week, after the court refused to sign an order to release the defendant on a $15,000 surety bond. The court wanted to know where the defendant was going to stay if the court allows him to be released on bond.

The charges are: sexual abuse in the first degree and child molesting, both felonies, and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.

During the court proceedings, the court stated that the allegations against the defendant are most serious, and the court does not want him to go back to the same environment where the alleged incident occurred.

Patea also wanted the government attorney to know that the safety of the alleged victim is something the court is concerned about.

The defendant’s bond hearing was re-scheduled for next week, allowing both attorneys time to present more information to the court about where the defendant would be staying if the court releases him on bond.