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Court sentences uncle who sexually assaulted his niece, 16

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 40-year-old man convicted of having a sexual relationship with his 16-year-old niece is ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders as a condition of his 5 year probation.

[in the interest of protecting the minor victim, Samoa News is withholding the names of all parties involved].

The defendant, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond, appeared in High Court last week for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey prosecuted.

The defendant, a father of 4, was initially charged with two counts of rape; two counts of deviate sexual assault; one count of incest; two counts of first degree sexual abuse - all felonies - and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.

But under a plea agreement with the government, he pled guilty to one count of deviate sexual assault, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

With his guilty plea, the defendant admits that between Nov. 1, 2018 and Feb. 25, 2019 he was engaged in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl.

When given the chance to speak, the defendant apologized and begged for a chance to return home to care for his children and his parents. He apologized to the government, his family, his children, and especially the victim and her parents for what he did, and the impact of it all.

He told the court he is ashamed of what he did to his own niece which ruined a good marriage with his wife, who left him and their four kids as a result. He said he’s truly remorseful and asked for leniency, saying he wants to go home to his kids and rebuild his family which was torn apart because of his actions.

When asked, the defendant told the court that his kids are with his mother in Samoa.

McNeill asked for a probated sentence so his client can return home to provide for his family. He noted what his client did was very serious.

Prosecutor Garvey echoed McNeill’s submission for a probated sentence. She said the victim’s family is asking for the defendant to depart the territory and remain outside of American Samoa, so he can no longer have contact with the victim.

According to the court, the defendant engaged in sexual acts with the victim inside their own home. The victim was under the defendant’s care.

The defendant was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

Execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions. He shall serve 20 months at the TCF without any release. Upon release, he is to immediately depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation. By statute, the defendant has to register as a sex offender and submit himself to HIV testing. He is also ordered not to make any contact with the victim or her family.


On Mar. 10, 2019 the defendant assaulted his wife and the victim (his niece) inside their home. The defendant punched his wife in the face multiple times, and then threatened to kill her if she called the cops. He also punched his niece (victim) in the face and pushed her to the ground before he kicked her in the back.

Police interviewed the defendant’s wife and the victim. The defendant left the house before police got there.

The defendant’s wife told police that aside from assaulting her, her husband assaulted the victim and engaged in a sexual relationship with her for over 2 months. The wife said  her husband was mad and was out of control when she confronted him regarding his sexual relationship with the victim. She said she confronted the victim who admitted everything to her.

According to the victim, it was November 2018 that her uncle touched her breast and private parts numerous times. He also kissed her and told her that he wanted to make love to her. She said she told her uncle that she can’t do that but her uncle told her there was nothing to worry about.

In December 2018 the defendant continued to touch the victim sexually and this time, he demonstrated to her how to perform sexual acts. In January 2019, the two had sexual intercourse for the first time. The girl told police she didn’t want to do it, but her uncle pushed himself on to her and eventually raped her. The defendant continued to come on to the victim and they had sex every other day, every week between January and February of 2019.

When confronted by police, the defendant admitted to having a sexual relationship with his own niece at their home in Tafuna.