Man accused of raping 16-year-old after she ran away from home
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man convicted of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl over four years ago was arrested by police last week on the allegation that he raped a 16-year-old girl who had run away from home.
Rene Finau appeared in District Court last week for his initial appearance.
He is charged with one count of rape, a class B felony, punishable by imprisonment from 5-15 years; one count of sodomy and one count of 1st degree sexual abuse, both class D felony.
Bail is set at $20,000.
If he posts bond, the court ordered Finau not to have any direct or indirect contact with the victim or her family in any way. He’s not allowed to call her on her cell phone, nor contact her on Facebook.
Defense attorney, Public Defender Michael White asked the court to reduce his client’s bail to $10,000 saying that his client is the only person who works to provide for his family.
Prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Robert Morrison III strongly opposed the defense’s motion saying that the defendant is on probation for a similar offense and it appears that he has a problem with young girls.
The court denied the defense’s motion.
On Thursday, Apr. 8, 2021, a woman walked into the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to file a report that her 16-year-old daughter went missing on Wednesday, Apr. 7th at an unknown time.
The woman was later identified as the victim’s mother. She told officers that she and her daughter had argued over a charger for a phone and she decided to leave the house to cool off and when she returned home around 3:20p.m she saw a note from her daughter stating she left to go to the market in Fagatogo.
The woman said she had been on the road since — non-stop — looking for her daughter and when she didn’t find the mother went to the TPS to report the matter.
On Friday, Apr. 9th, officers from the graveyard shift notified investigators that the victim’s mother had contacted the TPS around 11:09p.m to report that she (victim’s mother) posted on Facebook stating that if anyone has any information about her daughter’s whereabouts to let her know and a girl from Amouli contacted her and stated that she had information about her missing daughter.
Investigators contacted the girl from Amouli on Friday morning regarding the missing girl and she verbally stated to investigators that the missing girl is staying at a house with a guy named Rene Finau, the defendant in this matter.
Investigators contacted the Fagaitua Police Substation (FPS) and notified them about the matter. One hour later, officers from the FPS met with the victim and the defendant and investigators, along with the victim’s mother were notified about the situation.
The victim and the defendant were separately interviewed by investigators regarding this matter.
The victim told investigators that on the afternoon of Apr. 7th, she had argued with her mother and she decided to leave their home but she left a note stating she was going to the Fagatogo Market to hang out for a little while.
When she arrived at the market, her boyfriend (defendant) called her and she explained to him what happened so he (defendant) asked her to come over to his house in Amouli to spend the night with him.
The victim agreed and then caught the last bus and went to Amouli to meet her boyfriend. Once she arrived, her boyfriend took her inside his room and that’s when they had sex.
Finau was Mirandized and he acknowledged his understanding by signing the form to waive his rights and indicate he was willing to make a statement about what happen.
According to the defendant’s statement to investigators, his girlfriend told him about her situation when she called him and that’s when he told her to come over to his house to spend the night with him. When his girlfriend arrived, they went in his bedroom and they had sex.
Finau told investigators that he did not force the victim to come to his place, it was her own decision after they talked on the phone when she told him that she wanted to come over to see him.
According to Finau, he did not force the victim to have sex with him, it was the victim’s plan to leave home so that she could come and spend the night with him. He further stated to investigators that he spoke with the victim regarding her age however, she told him that there was nothing to worry about and she would make sure he would not get in trouble.
Finau was sentenced by the High Court in October 2017 to serve 28 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a conditions of his 7-year probation after being convicted for attempted rape of a 13-year-old girl in September of 2016.
Finau admits that he unlawfully entered a home during nighttime for the purpose of committing a crime. While he was inside the home, he went straight to the room where the 13-year-old was sleeping for the purpose of having sex with her.
The victim screamed when she felt somebody touching her body, and this alerted her family and caused the defendant to flee the scene, running for his life as he was being chased by the victim’s family members.
When given the chance to address the court, Finau apologized to the court for his action and promised that he would never do this type of action again but will use the remainder of his life to do good things for his family, his church and his village.
He told the court that it was the girl who told him to come over to her house at night to spend a moment together. He further stated to the court that it had been a month since the girl had told him to come over to her house and he did not want to because he knew that the girl was a minor and he would get into trouble if something happen between them.