Man sentenced to 4 years in child sex case
Apia, SAMOA — A 26-year-old man who performed sexual acts on an 11-year-old boy was sentenced to four years in jail. Sentencing was handed down by Supreme Court Justice, Mata Tuatagaloa earlier this month. The defendant, Val Apiuta was charged with two counts of indecent acts and one count of sexual connection to which he pled guilty. According to the police summary of facts read out in open court, the victim met the defendant on his way home.
They walked together on the road and the defendant asked the victim to perform sexual acts, however the victim refused. It’s alleged that the defendant placed his arm around the victim’s head and led the victim to a secluded area where the defendant allegedly kissed the young boy and performed sexual acts on him. The victim’s cousin caught the defendant in action with the young boy and the cousin punched the defendant who fell and then took off running.
The 26-year-old defendant from Faleula-uta is said to have been drinking alcohol prior to committing the offense. According to the report, the defendant claims that the victim is a transgender.
Justice Tuatagaloa pointed out that there is a 15-year age difference between the defendant and the victim and that indicates the level of vulnerability of the victim. “The bigger the age gap the more serious the offending will be. It is well accepted that violence is inherent in any sexual offending. There is usually also associated violence to the commission of the offending.” The Supreme Court Justice further pointed out that in this case the defendant by placing his arm around the victim’s head suggesting a ‘head lock’ and led the victim to a secluded area — is an act of violence.
She further noted that the defendant has previous convictions, which are not similar to his current offending. “What is of concern is the variety of offenses that the defendant commits from burglary and theft to possession of narcotics to the current sexual offending. The defendant is indeed becoming a ‘jack of all trades’ of offending. The defendant’s previous convictions are aggravating factors personal to the defendant as offender.”
The Supreme Court notes that the only mitigating factor is the defendant’s early guilty pleas. Supreme Court Justice Tuatagaloa says the offending is more opportunistic than pre-meditated as submitted by the prosecution. She further noted that the pre-sentence report has the defendant saying that the victim is a transgender. “If the defendant thinks that this is a “green light” for him to do what he did, he is wrong. The issue is not that the victim is a transgender; the issue is the victim’s age and the sexual offending by the defendant. The offending could have been a lot worse if the victim’s cousin had not come across the defendant and the victim. What the defendant did or performed to or upon the victim was those to an adult not a child. This is predatory sexual behavior,” the justice said.