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56-year-old man admits to having sex with 15-year-old girl

Another case of child sexual abuse in Samoa

Apia, SAMOA — “He knew that the victim was particularly vulnerable because of her age and because she was a victim of sexual abuse by others, a fact that she shared with him prior to his offending. Rather than helping this child, who is a victim of a sexual abuse, he victimized her further by having sex with her numerous times,” said Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala Warren when handing down sentencing for 56 year old Time Olo last week. 

The defendant appeared for sentencing on six counts of sexual connection with a young person under 16 years and each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. The defendant pled guilty to the six charges in January 2017.

Prosecuting this case was Lucy Sio while Time was represented by Pau Tagaogalupe Mulitalo. The police report says the defendant is a family friend of the vicim’s family. The 56-year-old defendant had caught the victim having sex with her cousin and the defendant told the victim that if she does not have sex with him he would tell the victim’s mother and step father.

The police report says that on June 25, 2016 the victim went to the defendant’s room and they had sexual intercourse that night and four other times after that. Tafaoimalo pointed out in the pre-sentencing report that the defendant is married with two children and has another six children from earlier marriages.

The defendant told the probation officer, “The victim in this matter had come to him expressing her misery at what her step father and brother were doing to her that is, having sex with her. She said her mother knew what was happening and did nothing. She said she gave in because of fear.”

The Supreme Court Justice pointed out that the defendant has five previous convictions from 1984-1987, two of those being for rape and indecent assault. She also noted that there has been no reconciliation of this case. Tafaoimalo notes the victim impact report says that the victim was scared of the defendant that when she does not obey his orders, he gets really angry and treats her like his wife and there are times that the defendant would try to assault her by slapping or punching her. The victim further says that the defendant also threatened to kill her if he ends up in jail and this caused her to panic and keep what happened to herself.

The victim is now living at the Samoa Victim Support Group Shelter where she feels safe. Tafaoimalo points out the age difference of 47 years between the defendant and the victim and it’s a significant aggravating factor.

“He is an adult, married with children. He is much older than the victim, and he took advantage of this.” Tafaoimalo further notes the offending was premeditated and that is an aggravating feature. “It took place six times during a period of about 2 months. There was a high level of premeditation given that this offending occurred a number of times. This cannot be attributed to impulsive behavior and he used what he learnt about her, to; in essence, blackmail her into having sex with him. The psychological impact on the victim is contained in the Victim Impact Report. She is scared of him as he threatened her.

However those fears are somewhat alleviated by her living at the shelter,” said the Supreme Court Justice.  One of the aggravating factors to be taken into account by the court is that Time has two previous convictions for sexual offending. “I note that these occurred in 1986, 31 years ago. However these are convictions for rape and indecent assault, which are very serious and relevant to the charge for which he is being sentenced.”

Tafaoimalo stated that the defense counsel submits that there was no breach of trust as the accused was not in a position where the complainant was dependent on the defendant for care or trust. However the prosecution claims the victim confided in the accused and the accused to an extent breached that position of trust. He also lived in the same household as the victim. Implicit in that, is fact that he is an adult and she is a child living in the same household. It goes without saying that some trust was placed in the accused as an adult in the household.

Multiple also submits that the impact on the complainant cannot be solely blamed on the defendant as she had been sexually abused by her step father, step brother and step grandfather. The impact on the victim is expressly set out in the Victim Impact Report. Mulitalo further says the complainant “had been to an extent promiscuous and flirtatious with the defendant” and Tafaoimalo in response noted that even if that were the case, the victim is 15 years old. “She is a child. The law on carnal knowledge has developed to protect children of this age as they cannot be relied upon to make wise decisions given their age, and to prevent adults from taking advantage of their immaturity. I am concerned that this submission shows a lack of understanding around these issues.” She said this a classic case of a young immature female making wrong decisions about her sexual partners. “It is the very sort of young female that the law of carnal knowledge is designed to protect.”

Tafaoimalo says that “even if the victim approached the accused, he being a grown man of 56 years, with his own grown children, should have known better and directed her to someone who could help, as he was well aware she was young. Deterrence is needed in this case so that a message is sent to grown men that this type of behavior is unacceptable. There is an overriding need to deter the accused and others from committing the same or similar offense and to protect the community from the accused. This protection is particularly important for children. Sadly this type of offending against young girls is becoming prevalent within our society.

Tafaimalo sentenced the defendant to two years and nine months in jail for each of the charges and they are to be served concurrently. “He saw her having sex with a cousin and used what he had seen to get her to have sex with him which is an extremely manipulative thing to do to a young girl,” said Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo.