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Man sentenced for attempted sexual abuse & burglary

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who unlawfully entered a house at night and attempted to rape a 16-year-old girl last year was sentenced to 28 months in prison, as a condition of his 7-year probation sentence.

Ioapo Alema, 33, was initially charged with burglary in the second-degree and sexual abuse in the first degree, both class C felonies.

However, under a plea agreement with the government, which was accepted by the court last month, the defendant pled guilty to burglary in the second degree and the amended count of attempted sexual abuse in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor.

With his guilty plea, Alema admits that in the beginning of March last year, he unlawfully entered a home during nighttime hours for the purpose of committing a crime. While he was inside the home, he went straight to the room where the 16-year-old victim was sleeping for the purpose of having sex with her.

The victim screamed when she felt somebody touching her legs, and this alerted her family and caused the defendant to flee the scene, as he was being chased by the victim's family members.

During sentencing, Alema apologized to the court for his actions and begged for a second chance to return home to care for his parents and his family.

“I feel I made a mistake and I am truly remorseful for what I did," he said, adding that he wants another chance so he can change his life and be a better person.

He promised never to take part in such actions again, and said he will use the remainder of his life to do good things for his family, his church and his village.

Deputy Public Defender Ryan Anderson, Alema’s attorney, said that after spending more than eleven months behind bars, his client has learned a lesson, he realizes that prison is not a good place for him, and he needs to move on with his life.  

White told the court that Alema has an alcohol problem, and he needs to attend and complete a specialized program so he can turn his life around.

The government’s attorney supported White’s argument, saying the government believes Alema is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence, and the court will manage his probation, which will give him time to change his life and address his alcohol problem.

He however reminded the court that Alema tried to have sex with a 16-year-old girl while she was asleep. He pointed out that there were other young children present in the room when the defendant entered.

The court told the defendant that if he wants to change his life he needs to stop consuming alcohol and/ or illegal substances.

The court sentenced Alema to an imprisonment term of 7 years for the crime of burglary in the second degree, and 1 year for third degree attempted sexual abuse.

His sentences will run concurrently, meaning at the same time. However, execution of the sentences were suspended and he is placed on probation for 7 years, under the condition that he serve 28 months in jail without release, except for medical reasons or by order of the court.

Upon release from custody, the court ordered Alema to immediately depart the territory and remain outside of its border for the remainder of his probation. However, this condition will be stayed until further order of the court.

He is also ordered to remain a law-abiding citizen, report to the probation office once a month upon release, and not possess or consume alcohol at any time. He is to submit to random alcohol and drug testing and he is not to make any contact with the victim or her family.

In addition, under the law, he must register as a sex offender.