Child rapist reoffends, this time while in prison
Apia, SAMOA — Supreme Court Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson took issue with Samoa’s Police Authority who placed a 13-year-old juvenile inside the Tafaigata prison, where the boy was sexually assaulted by an inmate who was serving a 20-year jail term for raping his biological daughter.
This was revealed in a sentencing order held last month and made available to the media in Samoa. In the interest of protecting the victim’s identity in this case, Samoa News has opted not to name the defendant. According to the order the defendant was charged with three counts and there are two separate victims.
The first two charges are indecent assault while the third count is attempting to have sexual connection with a minor. The defendant is a prisoner at Tafaigata serving a 20-year term for multiple counts of rape of his 14-year-old biological daughter. Vui made it clear that the previous case has no bearing on the matter at hand and “I ignore it completely for the purpose of assessing the defendant’s guilt or innocence on the present charges. It merely provides background to the current allegations against him.”
Vui pointed out that during the hearing, the police evidence, which essentially comprised the testimony of the two complaining witnesses showed that at the relevant time the defendant, was one of two head “matai” of Cell number 14 at Tafaigata Prison. “Cell 14 comprises a block of 5 rooms adjacent to each other. The defendant occupied Room 1 of cell 14. The complainants were at the relevant time held in cell 14.”
FIRST VICTIM IL, 23 YEARS OLD
There were two victims in this case IL and BA and evidence of IL that on the night of August 15, 2015 he was asleep with other inmates in room one when he awoke in the middle of the night to find the defendant was there. “He was well aware it was the defendant even though it was dark and he identified the defendant performing sexual acts on him (IL). He (IL) was taken by surprise at the defendants actions, stood up and went outside the room and spent the remainder of the night half-asleep by the doorway of the room. No doubt because he feared further sexual assaults at the hands of the defendant,” said Vui.
The Supreme Court Justice further pointed put that the defendant is of a much bigger and more mature build than IL who was 23 years old at the time of the incident. The defendant is in his sixties noted the court. IL informed the court that he told his cellmates and subsequently reported the incident to the Prison Authorities. Vui noted that at the hearing the defendant was given the chance to cross-examine IL who was on the stand, however the defendant indicated he had no questions to ask. “I interpret that to be an acceptance of the complainant’s testimony.”
SECOND VICITM BA, 13 YEARS OLD
According to the sentence and judgment order, the second victim is BA who is 13 years old and was serving a two-year sentence at the Olomanu Juvenile Facility for sexually assaulting a girl under 10 years of age. Vui noted “BA had been sent to Tafaigata Prison because he had escaped from Olomanu, probably more than once. A decision however that cannot from any point of view be justified and for which the Prison Authorities must be held accountable for it created the environment within which a convicted child rapist could reoffend against another young victim.” BA testified that on August 19, 2015, it was his first night in cell 14 and he was invited by the defendant to sleep in his room, as he had no roommates at the time.
The complainant (BA) naively accepted and was dozing off to sleep when the defendant entered the room. The defendant lay down beside him pulled down his shorts and began fondling his genitals. This caused him to awaken fully. He pulled up his shorts and turned his back to the defendant who pretended to be sleeping. Defendant pulled his pants down again and tried to apply oil from a bottle beside his bed to his backside in an attempt to have sex from behind.
Vui further noted that BA said he resisted and slapped away the defendant’s hands but the defendant kept trying to pull him close to him causing him to stand up and leave the room. He (BA) saw the naked defendant again pretending to go to sleep and he sat by the cell door for the remainder of the night. BA reported what happened to other head matai of their cell-block who reported what happened to the Prison Authorities.
Vui pointed out that he has no difficulty in accepting the evidence of the complainants. “They were convincing and their stories are credible. BA’s evidence remained unshaken by the defendant’s cross-examination. When given an opportunity to give evidence if he wished or call witnesses in his defense, the defendant apologized to the court and asked that his days in solitary confinement as punishment for this matter by the Prison Authorities be taken into consideration.
“That is tantamount to a confession of guilt. I find all three charges proven beyond reasonable doubt.” Vui dispensed the need for a pre-sentence report from the Probation Office noting “such would be of no use to the defendant who has a previous conviction for an offense of a similar nature. His offending here again involved young victims. In the case of BA a minor only 13 years of age. I am astounded that the Prison Authorities would place a minor in an adult prison. It is a well-documented fact that association with hardened criminals can have the effect of turning young offenders into the monsters that lurk within our penal system. It seems these matters require being re-stated. Separation of juvenile offenders from their adult counterparts is also in line with Samoa’s obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child which we executed and ratified over 20 years ago.”
The Supreme Court Justice noted that the issue of the minor inside an adult prison concerns him. “It is a matter of grave concern that not only was a minor remanded in the adult prison but he was placed in a cell-block overseen by a man serving 20 years for repeatedly raping his 14 year old daughter. It beggars belief and there must issue a strong condemnation of such action. It is no surprise that on his first night in cell 14 this 13-year-old fell prey to the defendant. Perhaps if the defendant had been registered as a hard-core offender on a Sex Offenders Register this offending may not have occurred.
As this case shows, the sooner a Register for serious and serial sex offenders is established, the better, Vui stated and ruled that considering all circumstances the appropriate start point (for sentencing) is six years, upgraded to seven years because of the defendant’s record.
“Again, no deductions are available to you except to recognize the five months that you say you received as punishment by being held in Solitary Confinement in the “pa-simā” at the Prison. I am familiar with the “pa-simā” at Tafaigata Prison. Solitary confinement there is an archaic and brutal form of punishment. I will deduct one year from your sentence in recognition of that fact, as no man should be punished twice for the same sin. On this charge convicted and sentenced to six years in prison, cumulative to existing term.” Vui also made it clear that the six years is in addition to his 20-year sentencing for the repeatedly raping of his biological daughter back in 2013.