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Man held without bail after arrest on rape charges

American Samoa DIistrict Court building
Victim and defendant both claim the relationship was consensual

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 25-year-old man was arrested last month for engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl. It was the girl’s 35-year-old sister who reported the matter to police and led to the arrest of the defendant, after her little sister was found sneaking out late at night.

The young man, Tolofasa Ielu is now in custody after he was arrested by police last month at his uncle’s home in Happy Valley where he has resided since police began looking for him at the beginning of this year.

The government claims that around 10:27p.m on Nov. 19, 2020, a young mother contacted the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to report that her 16-year-old sister was repeatedly sneaking out late at night from her aunt’s residence, and she wanted police to question her about her nightly forays.

The young mother further stated to police that she heard rumors about her youngest sister’s relationship with a male by the name of Tolo of Vaitogi and Iilili, but she didn’t have anything to prove it. Tolo was later identified as Tolofau Ielu, the defendant in this matter.

The young mother had become suspicious that something was going on with her sister and Ielu, and she wanted to stop the situation. She told police that she was currently with her sister, who was refusing to come back home with her and she wanted police to speak to her.

The young mother also stated to police on the phone that her sister’s behavior had changed and she wondered if she was on drugs or alcohol.

Her sister was living with her aunt in Tafuna, however, five years ago in 2016, her sister moved out from her aunt’s home and had come to live with her and her family. However, ever since she scolded her sister for hanging out with male friends late at night, that’s when her sister started to change her behavior and wanted to move back to their aunt’s home in Tafuna.

Several police officers responded to the call and met up with the woman who briefed officers regarding what had happened. Afterwards, she was advised by officers to come with her sister to TPS to sort out what was going on.

The youngest sister is named in the court affidavit as C.T, the victim in this case.

The victim was interviewed by two police officers about why she keeps sneaking out late at night without her sister knowing.

At first, the victim would not speak about the situation, she told investigators that she doesn’t want her boyfriend to be in trouble because it was her own fault, not her boyfriend’s. However, she eventually told the investigators that she was currently in a relationship with her boyfriend, Tolofasa Ielu (defendant), a 25-year-old male from Vaitogi. She also provided an oral and a written statement regarding her relationship with Ielu.

According to the victim’s statement to investigators, she moved out from her older sister’s house two months ago to stay at her aunt’s house, and revealed to investigators that the reason she moved out from her sister’s house was because her brother-in-law (her sister’s husband) allegedly touched her inappropriately many times, and when he was drunk.

For that reason she decided to move out and stay with her aunt after she told her oldest sister what had happened.

The victim also said that the reason she sneaks out from her aunt’s residence is because she wants to go chill with her friends. She told investigators that she started having a relationship with her boyfriend around January of this year when she met him at a volleyball game one Saturday afternoon.

The relationship developed through emails and phone calls until on Mar. 10, 2020 they both agreed to meet and they had sexual relations, for the first time. C.T then recounted to investigators other incidences of their sexual relations, noting locations.

She further admitted that everything that happened between them was consensual; and that there were times before she and her boyfriend had sex that they both smoked meth.

The victim said that it was she who provided drugs for both of them, and told them how she purchased the illegal drugs, including the name of her girlfriend, the village and the location of the house in the village. The victim also provided the name of the man from whom her girlfriend went and bought drugs.

After hearing the victim’s statement, investigators proceeded to the defendant’s home in an effort to locate him, but Ielu was not home. He was not home the following day either.

It was not until two months after the complaint was filed that Ielu was arrested at his uncle’s house in Kokoland and transported to the TPS for questioning.

Before Ielu was transported to the TPS for questioning, he was patted down and illegal drugs were found — a glass pipe containing meth was discovered inside his pants pocket, along with two hand rolled cigarettes believed to be marijuana.

Ielu was Mirandized and agreed to speak to police regarding the alleged relationship with C.T. He confirmed the alleged relationship, including when they first started to have a sexual relationship in March 2020, as described by C.T to investigators, except according to Ielu, they first met on a bus, not at a volleyball game.

The defendant made it clear to investigators that the relationship was consensual.

When asked about the drugs discovered in his possession, Ielu told investigators that the drugs belonged to him.

Ielu was later booked and confined in jail to await his court appearance and for a warrant to be processed.

Ielu made his initial appearance in court last month.

The government has filed two separate cases against Ielu.

In the first case, Ielu is charged with two counts of rape and one count of sodomy, all class B felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than fifteen years.

In the second case, Ielu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies.

Due to the seriousness of the alleged crime, Ielu is being held in custody without bail.