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Man pleads guilty to sexual assault of 38-year old female relative

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 52-year-old man from Malaeimi who was accused of sexually assaulting a 38-year-old, who is a relative, has pled guilty under a plea bargain with the government. Tovia Misiolo is scheduled to appear in Court on May 23 for sentencing.

Misiolo was initially charged with three criminal counts, including sexual abuse in the first degree, a class D felony; and two misdemeanor charges, trespass and assault in the third degree.

Under the plea bargain, Misiolo, who is being held on bail of $10,000 since his arrest on Nov. 01, 2018 pleaded guilty to the amended count one; sexual assault in the second degree, a class B misdemeanor, together with counts 2 and 3 as charged.

In his plea, Misiolo admitted that on Nov. 01, 2018 in Malaeimi, he unlawfully entered the house of the victim without permission for the purpose of committing a crime.

He allegedly entered the house, saw the victim was sleeping on the floor in the living room and walked over to her and pulled up her shirt and touched her left breast. The victim woke up when she felt the touch and pushed the defendant away and swore at him to get out of the house. The victim then locked the house after the defendant left and called the police for assistance.

The victim told investigators at the time that this is not the first time the defendant did this to her.

When asked by the court, Misiolo admitted to the allegations against him; and the court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea. After the court announced the acceptance of the defendant’s plea of guilt, defense counsel asked the court to release his client from jail to await his sentencing.

He pointed out that his client has been in jail for a over 15 months, which is more than Misiolo can be sentenced for all the three charges for which he has been convicted. The prosecutor did not oppose the defense’s motion for Misiolo to be released.

However, he said that if the court allows the defendant to be released from prison, he must be ordered not to set foot in the village of Malaeimi and not try to have any physical contact with the victim.

“If he’s not allowed to set foot back in Malaeimi, so where is he going to stay?” the court asked but there was no response from the government attorney. The defense attorney told the court that his client is aware that he should not contact the victim in any way if the court releases him from jail.