Court considers sex abuse and receiving stolen property cases
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 28-year-old man from Samoa accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl last year has entered into a plea agreement with the government. Talatonu Lafoga was originally charged with first degree sexual abuse, attempted rape, second degree burglary — all class C felonies — and two class A misdemeanors: third degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Under a plea agreement, he pled guilty to first degree sexual abuse. The remaining charges are dismissed. Lafoga admits that on the night of Apr. 21, 2019 he unlawfully entered the victim’s home by breaking the back door. He said he went to the living room and, while the victim was sleeping with her three young siblings, he touched the girl's chest and her private parts.
Lafoga, according to the government, was drinking with his friends in front of a store in Tafuna on the night of the incident, when a young girl — later identified as the victim — walked over and called his name. Lafoga and the victim spoke for over 30 minutes. At around 11p.m, Lafoga went to the victim’s home and committed the crime.
Lafoga told police the victim was his girlfriend and she invited him to her house, saying her parents would be at the airport. When questioned by police, the victim, in the presence of her mother, said she never invited Lafoga to her home. She said she only met him at the church bingo a week prior to the incident.
A 39-year-old man who was convicted of receiving stolen items has been sentenced to 2 years probation. Kamuta Eletise was initially charged with one count of conspiracy to steal, a class C felony; but under a plea agreement, he pled guilty to the amended charge of receiving stolen property, a class A misdemeanor.
Eletise admits that on Nov. 30, 2018 he received from someone, property valued at less than $100 that was stolen from Pacific Products Inc.
During sentencing, Eletise apologized and asked for a second chance so he can go home and care for his mother and his two kids — who were all in court last week.
Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson said Eletise is a first time offender. He then asked for a probated sentence without any jail time. He said his client spent almost 5 months at the TCF before he posted bond last year, and he lost his job as a result. Prosecutor Doug Lowe didn’t oppose the request for probation, saying 5 months in jail is more than enough punishment. The court agreed.
“We do note Mr. Eletise that in 39 years you have managed to keep yourself away from violating the law, until this recent violation when you hung around with the wrong people, or with some other kind of influence which is something you need to address by yourself to make sure you don’t repeat it,” the court said.
Eletise was sentenced to 12 months in jail. Execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 2 years under the condition that he remain law abiding, and pay a $1,000 fine and $161 restitution.