Young man engaged in allegedly consensual relationship bound over for trial on rape charges
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The preliminary examination (PX) for a 20-year-old man from Samoa charged for engaging in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl is now bound over to High Court after District Court Pro Tem, Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde was satisfied that the evidence presented by the government was sufficient to support their case against the defendant.
Senio Tovia, who 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, has denied the allegation against him when he appeared in High Court this week for his arraignment.
Pretrial conference is set for Aug. 28th.
Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Kristie Soule, while Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart represented the defendant, is still in custody since his arrest, unable to post his $30,000 surety bond.
During the PX last Friday, the government called one witness, Officer Sosene Faiai, who led the investigation in this case.
According to Faiai, it was around 9:27p.m on Friday, July 10th, 2020, when a 43-year-old mother from Vailoa contacted the Leone Police Substation (LPS) to report that her 15-year-old daughter was repeatedly sneaking out late at night from her uncle’s residence, and she wanted police to question her about what she is up to.
Several police officers responded to the call and met up with the mother who briefed officers regarding what had happened. Afterwards, she was advised by officers to come with her daughter to LPS to sort out what was going on.
The victim was then interviewed by two police officers on the issue, where she eventually told the officers that she was currently in a relationship with her boyfriend, Senio Tovia (defendant), a 20-year-old male from Malaeloa. She provided both an oral and a written statement regarding her relationship with Tovia.
According to the victim’s statement to police, she sneaks out from her uncle’s residence because she wants to go chill with her friends. She told police officers that she started having a relationship with her boyfriend around October 2019 when she met him on Facebook. Their relationship eventually developed into a sexual one by February 2020.
She further admitted that they would meet up late at night either near her home or in front of the retail store across from Leone High School. She also told police that everything that happened between them was consensual.
Tovia was questioned by police, with Faiai telling the court that Tovia admitted to all the allegations against him.
Defense attorney, Stuart asked the witness whether his client admitted to him of his own free will or was he forced to speak. The witness said, it was Tovia who wished to speak with him and other officers who helped him with his investigation.
After hearing the witness’s testimony, Tauiliili-Langkilde said there was sufficient evidence for probable cause to try the defendant in court.