Man who had an alcohol ‘black out’ pleads guilty to crime he doesn’t remember
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted of sexually abuse of a young victim almost two years ago was released from custody yesterday morning after the High Court decided that the 22 months he served at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) while awaiting the outcome of his case is a sufficient period of detention for the crime of which he is convicted.
The defendant, David Williams appeared in High Court yesterday morning for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Kristine Soule’.
Williams was initially charged with one count of 1st degree sexual abuse and one count of deviate sexual abuse, both class D felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
However, in a plea agreement with the government, which was accepted by the court two months ago, Williams pled guilty to the offense of 1st degree sexual abuse.
With his guilty plea, Williams admits that somewhere around January of 2020 he sexually abused the victim by touching her inappropriately.
When given the chance by the court to speak, Williams apologized for his action and asked for a chance to go back home and to rebuild his life. He told the court that while living in prison for many months awaiting the outcome of this matter — as he had decided originally to challenge the allegation against him — he finally changed his mind, that he would admit to the allegation against him, knowing that he violated laws of the territory of American Samoa.
He then apologized to the American Samoa Government and its people for disobeying the laws of the land.
Defense attorney, Anderson requested a probated sentencing without any additional period of detention.
He told the court that according to the statement by the victim and her mother, which was given to Probation, they agreed with a sentence of probation and believe that the 669 days his client has served in custody while awaiting the outcome of his case is a significant amount of time.
Furthermore, Anderson told the court that they, the victim and her mother, don’t oppose the defendant being released back into the community.
According to Anderson, his client is truly remorseful for his action and he wants to move forward with his life. Anderson told the court that his client is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.
However, the prosecutor disagreed.
Soule’ recommended that the court sentence the defendant to the maximum sentence applicable by the law. While the defendant does not have a criminal history of sexual abuse, Soule’s believes that his action against the young minor had a huge negative impact not only on the victim but also for the community.
A recess was called.
When the court reconvened, the court wanted to make sure if this is the case where the defendant was heavily intoxicated and told investigators that he doesn’t have any recollection of what actually happened but a security camera collaborated the victim’s story.
In response, Anderson confirmed the court’s question and told the court his client doesn’t remember what actually happened because he was heavily intoxicated. Anderson further told the court that his client never got the chance to review the security camera footage.
According to Probation, the defendant was unemployed but he had access to funds to buy alcohol. The court was curious about this and asked the defendant how he got his money to buy his alcohol.
Williams explained to the court that he has a plantation at home. He sold his crops from his plantation to get money to buy his beer.
Based on the information from Probation, Williams has served 669 days in custody, which is a little bit over 22 months.
By judgment of the court, the sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for five years subject to several conditions.
He shall remain law abiding; visit Probation every two weeks; undertake and complete an alcohol and drug management program conducted by the Department of Human Social Services (DHSS).
Williams is also to refrain from possession or use of alcohol or any illegal drugs and he shall submit himself for testing to make sure he stays clean. The defendant was also ordered to registered as a sex offender and undergo HIV testing.
The court advised the defendant that if he can’t stay away from alcohol, he would most likely return to custody for 5 years. The court further told the defendant that’s the whole reason why he was behind bars in the first place because he has a drinking problem.
After his sentencing, Chief Justice Michael Kruse instructed that the defendant be processed and released from custody.
Assisting Kruse on the bench were Associate Judges Faamausili Pomele and Muasau T. Tofili.
Williams’ conviction stemmed from an incident where he was arrested after a woman filed a criminal complaint at the beginning of last year on the allegation he sexually abused her minor daughter.
Investigators apprehended the defendant at his residence and later transported him to the TPS for further investigation. When questioned by police, the defendant strongly denied the allegation that he sexually abused the victim. He told investigators that he was heavily intoxicated and he didn’t have any recollection whatsoever of anything he did to the minor victim.
When questioned by investigators, the victim confirmed the allegations against the defendant.