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Fiji man accused of sexually assault wants a jury trial

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 46-year-old man from Fiji, who was arrested earlier this year on allegations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year old girl, has informed the court that he wants a jury trial.

Manoa Niukavu, 46, is a Fijian national who was employed as an X-ray technician at the LBJ Hospital.

He appeared in High Court last week for a second pretrial conference.

He is represented by Public Defender Michael White while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

When Niukavu’s case was called, Garvey informed the court that the government has turned over all the discovery — police reports — along with an offer to the defense.

White acknowledged receiving the aforementioned items, and said he has reviewed the offer with his client, who rejected it, and his client is asking to proceed with a jury trial.

Niukavu, who has been in custody since his arrest in July under a $50,000 bond is scheduled to appear in court in three years, on Sept. 13, 2021 for a jury trial.


Niukavu is charged with 6 charges, including 2 counts of sodomy; 2 counts of first degree sexual abuse — all class B felonies, punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 15 years — and 2 counts of third degree assault, a class C misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to fifteen days, and a fine of up to $300, or both.

The victim told police that the defendant came to her and allegedly hugged her from behind and kissed her. She could feel his manhood against her back.

The victim further told police in her statement that on Dec. 11, 2017, she did not go to school because of a painful boil. Niukavu was at home that day, he did not go to work.

While she was lying in bed, Niukavu came and laid down behind her. He allegedly tickled her and started kissing her but she slapped him and told him to stop. Niukavu then held her hand and allegedly removed a thin wrap that was the only clothing she had over her chest.

She struggled but he was too strong for her to get away from. The victim told Niukavu that she was scared, but Niukavu told her that there was nothing to be scared of. He allegedly told the victim to relax and not move.

The victim told investigators that she was really scared and told Niukavu to stop, but Niukavu continued to kiss her and then moved down to other parts of her body. Niukavu allegedly pulled her shorts and underpants off and continued to perform sexual acts on her while she was crying and asking him to stop.