Guilty plea to sex charges

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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The charges read to the defendant stated that between the 1st and the 31st of December 2016, Leo sexually violated the two young girls.

The charges read to the defendant stated that between the 1st and the 31st of December 2016, Leo sexually violated the two young girls.

A 51-year-old man, Suitupe Leo, of Vailele has pleaded guilty to charges of sexually harassing two sisters aged 14 and 11.

The victims are the defendant’s nephew’s children.

Leo changed his plea on the second day of an assessor trial before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren.

On the first day of the trial, Leo was seen raising his hands saying “praise God.”

He repeatedly said: “Alleluia, praise you Jesus, thank you Jesus!” inside the court room before the trial began.

He was also then seen “speaking in tongues.”

Initially, Leo strongly denied four charges of sexual connection laid against him earlier this year.

However, on the second day of the trial, Defense Counsel Afamasaga Michael So’onalole told the Court that the defendant wanted to change his plea.

The charges read to the defendant stated that between the 1st and the 31st of December 2016, Leo sexually violated the two young girls.

He pleaded guilty to one count of sexual connection with a girl under the age of 16 and one count of sexual connection with a girl under the age of 12.

Prosecution was Leone Su’a-Mailo of the Attorney General’s Office.

According to the police summary of facts, on the night in question the defendant went to his nephew’s house drunk asking for a place to sleep.

The defendant’s nephew then told the defendant that he could sleep with his son in the kitchen.

However, the victim’s father said the defendant refused to sleep in the kitchen saying that he wanted to sleep with his children.

The nephew said this made him uncomfortable, but he did not question his uncle’s request.

According to the 11-year-old’s testimony, on the night of the incident, the defendant woke her up in the middle of the night and sexually harassed her before doing the same to her 14-year-old sister.

According to the victims, they did not call out for help because they were afraid and were in pain.

Taking the stand on the first day of the trial, Leo told the Court that the victims were lying and that they were framing him.

His wife was not happy when her husband changed his plea in open Court yesterday.

 “Why did you change your answer,” she asked the defendant.

“Does this mean that you confirmed the incident or has your lawyer forced you to change your plea?"

“We never asked for any lawyer to represent you, this is so unfair.”

In response, Leo told his wife that he was doing what was right.

The defendant is scheduled to be sentence on 6 December 2017.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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