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Man who pleads guilty to abuse ordered to register as a sex offender

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 32-year old man accused of forcibly entering a Malaeimi home with the intent of making sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl who was in her bedroom sleeping, was sentenced last week to 20 months imprisonment as part of a 5-year probation term.

Danny Sefo, who has been in custody since his arrest in October 2020, unable to post a $15,000 surety bond, was initially charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree sexual abuse, and misdemeanor trespassing. But under the plea agreement with the government, Sefo pled guilty to first-degree sexual abuse. The remaining charges were dismissed.

In pleading guilty to the charge, Sefo admits that on the evening of Oct. 25, 2020, while he was heavily intoxicated, he forcibly entered a home in Malaeimi with the intent of committing a crime.

While inside the house, he sexually abused a 16-year-old female in her bedroom while she was asleep, by touching her inappropriately.

First-degree sexual abuse is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

According to terms of the plea agreement, the incident occurred when the victim was alone at home with her two younger siblings, while her parents were at a church meeting.

During sentencing, Sefo apologized for his actions and sought leniency so he could return home to care for his wife and children, as well as his family, church, and village.

He told the court that he is the only one who works, and he made a silly mistake that hurt his family, especially his wife and children who are very dear to his heart.

“I’m truly remorseful for what I did and I beg the court for a second chance, so I can change my life and start a new chapter,” Sefo said with tears in his eyes.

He also apologized to the victim and her parents, and asked for their forgiveness.

The defense attorney asked the court for leniency, pointing out that his client has been in custody for almost 20 months.

Defense also asked for a probated sentence, credit for time served, and no additional term of detention for his client.

However, the government’s attorney argued for the maximum sentence because of the seriousness of the crime involving a minor, who will not forget what the defendant did to her for the rest of her life.

She said that what happened to the victim is something that will always keep her awake at night.

The prosecutor added that a message needs to be sent out to the public, to alert everyone who commits this type of offense that the court will not tolerate it.

The prosecutor said the defendant is a married man with young children, but he unlawfully entered the home of the victim at night, and sexually abused her while her parents were away from home.

A recess was called.

A recap of the facts of the case was made before the sentence was handed down.

In summary, Sefo was in a drinking session with friends before the incident happened. Around 9p.m on the night in question, Sefo, on his way home, went to the victim's home and knocked on the front door.

The victim opened the door and saw Sefo standing outside, holding two large beer bottles. Sefo asked the victim where her father was, and the girl told him her dad wasn't home, and that both her parents were at a church meeting.

The defendant then left, returning around 9:45 p.m on that same night, where he entered the victim’s home through the back door and made his way to the victim’s bedroom and sexually abused her by touching her inappropriately.

The victim screamed and yelled at Sefo to leave the house. The defendant then fled, leaving his black wallet with a photo ID behind.

Sefo was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Execution of sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.

He has to serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) —credited for time served —and upon release, he is to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of  probation. However, this condition (departure) is stayed until further order of the court.

By statute, Sefo has to undergo HIV testing and register as a sex offender.

He is not to make any direct or indirect contact with the victim and her family, and he is to remain drug and alcohol free, and be subject to random testing.