Man convicted of sexually assaulting his 16-yr old stepdaughter to serve 7 yrs
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year-old man convicted of sexually assaulting his 16-year-old stepdaughter over a period of 4 months will serve 7 years at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
[In the interest of protecting the minor victim, Samoa News is withholding the name of all parties involved].
The stepfather, who has been in custody unable to post a $200,000 surety bond, appeared in Court last week for sentencing.
The defendant was initially facing 19 charges, including 5 counts of rape; 5 counts of sodomy; 5 counts of first degree sexual abuse; 5 counts of incest; and 4 counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, he pled guilty to the amended count of sexual assault, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both; and first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
The defendant admits that between November 2018 and May 2019, he sexually assaulted his 16-year-old stepdaughter in their home. He claims they had a consensual sexual relationship that lasted about seven months.
When given the chance to speak, the defendant apologized and said he’s truly remorseful for what happened; adding that he wants to return home so he can find a job to care for his wife and children.
He never offered an apology to the victim, whose mother — the defendant’s wife — was present in court during sentencing. Defendant’s attorney requested probation, saying that despite the seriousness of the crime, his client deserves a second chance to return home. He went on to say that the defendant’s wife and daughter (the victim) want him to return home and reunite with the family.
The prosecutor asked for a period of detention, saying the defendant committed a serious offense that will affect the future of the young victim. The government’s attorney said the sentence would send a strong message to the community that the court will not tolerate this type of behavior.
A recap of the facts of the case was made before sentencing was handed down.
According to the court, the defendant engaged in a sexual relationship with his 16-year-old stepdaughter, and his actions were severe and unspeakable. With regards to the defense’s claim that the victim and her mother have agreed to allow the defendant to return home, the court is not persuaded. In fact, the court believes the defendant is a danger to the family and he needs to stay away from the victim.
Committing sexual acts against minor children is one of the more serious offenses in American Samoa, the court noted, saying it will do everything in its authority to make sure anyone who commits these crimes is held accountable for their actions.
After reviewing the Pre Sentence Report (PSR) including the defendant’s history, the court said it was unsure why the government didn’t initially charge him with Domestic Violence, which is a more serious offense, a class B felony that carries a longer jail term.
Court records also showed that defendant was convicted by the District Court in 2008 for third degree assault and public peace disturbance, both misdemeanors. The underlying conduct was that he touched a 23-year-old woman in a sexual manner and when the woman’s husband confronted him, he yelled profanities and challenged the victim’s spouse to a fight.
He was convicted and sentenced to 12 months probation for this crime over ten years ago.
The court then sentenced the defendant to 7 years imprisonment and a $2,000 fine for sexual assault; and 5 years and a $2,000 fine for first degree sexual abuse. The sentences are to run concurrently, meaning he will serve 7 years behind bars.
The court ordered that the defendant’s sponsor is responsible for paying the $2,000 fine within 6 months.
The matter came to light after police were notified on May. 30, 2019 about the defendant assaulting his wife and her daughter (the victim) in their home. The defendant reportedly punched his wife in the face multiple times, and then threatened to kill her if she called the cops. The defendant also pushed his stepdaughter to the ground before punching her in the face and kicking her in the back.
After the beating, the defendant took his wife's purse, cell phone and left the house, and reminded her that he would kill her and then commit suicide if she contacted the authorities.
During the interview, the defendant’s wife informed police that there was another incident that she really wanted to discuss but she was afraid that her husband might do something to her or to himself (defendant). Police advised the woman to tell her story about the other incident she had just mentioned.
The defendant’s wife then told police that her husband was engaged in a sexual relationship with her 16-year-old daughter. She said the sexual relations started in the end of 2018 and she had confronted her husband several times about it, telling him to stop what he was doing but he kept insisting that nothing was going on.
The wife called several family meeting with her husband and her daughter after the girl told her about her stepdad's behavior towards her. During the meeting, the defendant admitted to having a sexual relationship with his stepdaughter and he asked his wife to forgive him, telling her he would not do it again.
The victim confirmed to police that her stepfather had sexual relations with her — inappropriate touching — including that it was in the first week of February 2019 when they first had sexual intercourse. The girl said she didn't want to do it, but her stepdad pushed himself on to her and eventually raped her. According to the girl, her stepdad continued to come on to her and they had sex every other day, every week, from February until May of last year.
When confronted by police, the defendant admitted to having a sexual relationship with his stepdaughter, who was then 16, saying it was consensual.
The defendant also blamed his wife as the reason for the sexual relationship between him and the victim.