Man denies allegations of sexually assaulting his 16-yr old niece
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year old bus driver was arrested by police last month after allegations arose that 5 months ago he sexually assaulted his 16-year old niece.
The victim along with a relative made the report to police last month after the alleged incident took place. According to the victim’s family, the suspect is the victim’s mother’s cousin.
The defendant is being charged with 6 criminal counts that include 2 counts of sodomy; 2 counts of 1st degree sexual abuse, all class B felonies, punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 15 years; and 2 counts of 3rd degree assault, both class C misdemeanors, punishable by imprisonment for up to fifteen days, and a fine of up to $300, or both.
He made his initial appearance in District Court last month where the court established his bail at a $35,000, surety bond.
If he can post his bond, the court orders that the defendant is not to have a direct or indirect contact with the victim or government witnesses; to surrender his travel documents to the government attorney, and he is not to leave or attempt to leave the territory without a written order of the court.
The defendant refused to sign the copy of his arrest warrant that was attached to the affidavit to notify the court that he had received the documents.
According to the Immigration report presented to the court, the defendant has an immigration status of “SB” and his immigration ID is valid until June of next year.
When the court asked the Immigration Officer (IO) about a “SB status”, the officer replied that it refers to an individual who is sponsored by a business.
The court wanted to know what happened to the requirement for criminal clearance of the person who is applying for a job in American Samoa, which the applicant has to submit along with all the required documents?
The IO told the court that she cannot offer any answer to the court’s enquiry.
Then court continued to ask about the required documentation a person has to submit when applying for a job in the territory.
“There is a criminal record (clearance) for the applicant from his/ her home country that needs to be submitted,” the court told to the IO. “We’re not allowed to let a criminal enter American Samoa. The court is not taking this matter lightly.”
The defendant is scheduled to appear in District Court next week Thursday for his preliminary examination (PX).
The government claims that on May 22, 2020, the victim (who is named in the affidavit as RV, and her aunt (her mother’s sister) walked into the Central Police Station and alleged that the defendant sexually assaulted RV in Kokoland.
A detective from the DPS Criminal Investigation Bureau (CID) was assigned to investigate the matter. The victim was interviewed by two CID detectives.
It appeared from the government’s case that the defendant and the victim lived together with their family in Kokoland. The victim lived with her mother, aunties and young siblings in the one house, while the defendant lived by himself in another house. The two houses are located on the same property.
The victim told investigators that on May 22, 2020 around 6:30a.m, the defendant woke her up (victim) to prepare breakfast for their 85-year-old uncle and do the ironing for the victim’s school uniforms and the defendant’s clothes. While the victim was preparing breakfast for the family, the defendant came to her and asked if the victim’s mother and aunties had left for work. The victim replied yes, leaving only her and their uncle in the house.
As the victim continue to do her ironing, defendant allegedly began to sexual assault her by inappropriately touching her, and asked her not to go to school but to stay with him.
The victim walked away and told the defendant to stop his stupid actions, but the defendant laughed and told the victim that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her because he’s lonely and nobody wants to be with him forever.
Immediately after this alleged incident, the victim reported it to her eldest sister and the sister in turn reported it to their mother who is in Samoa. The victim’s mother told her to come home to Samoa, if it happened again.
Five days after the first alleged incident another alleged incident happened inside the same house where the defendant and the victim lived.
The victim further reported to police in her statement that on May 27, Tuesday morning, she did not go to school because she got the flu. She then asked her oldest sister to give her $20 to buy something for the uncle’s breakfast.
The defendant left the house for work as a bus driver, but he knew that the victim was not going to school.
Around 9:30a.m, the defendant came back home and told the victim that he’s not feeling good. Defendant parked his bus at the back of the house and went inside the victim’s house.
Both the defendant and the victim were in the living room of the same house while the 82-year-old uncle was sleeping inside his room.
The defendant went to his house and got in his bed while the victim was lying on the couch in the living room watching TV.
The victim told investigators while she was lying on the couch in the living room, the defendant came and sat down behind her. He allegedly tickled her and started kissing her but she slapped him and told him to stop. She then stood up, walked inside her room and locked the door.
The defendant used a butter knife to open the door and made his way inside her room and found the victim lying on her bed. The defendant then held her hands and allegedly removed a thin wrap that was the only clothing she had over her chest.
He then allegedly performed sexual acts on her as she continued to cry and ask him to stop. When the defendant finally stopped, he then asked the victim for her forgiveness.
On the following day, the victim was examined by doctor at the LBJ Hospital, and a sexual assault report was completed.
The defendant was arrested while his bus was parked at the Fagatogo Market pursuant to an arrest warrant from the court.
During an interview with police, the defendant strongly denied all the allegations against him after he was informed of his constitutional rights. However, after investigators informed him about the victim’s statement, the defendant then told investigators that he wanted to tell his side of the story.
According to the defendant’s statement to investigators, it all started at the beginning of 2019 when the victim came into his room and asked him if they could start a friendship but he told her he couldn’t do that because they’re family.
The defendant further stated to investigators that on the day of the alleged incident, they had a conversation, and started kissing. The defendant admitted going to the victim’s bedroom where he performed more sexual acts on her. He further told police that the victim consented to the encounter. The defendant strongly denied the allegation that what he did was by force.