A 53-year-old man has been jailed for 12 years for raping a 12-year-old girl in 2015.
Ututa’aloga Fereti Leota, was found guilty and sentenced by Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren in the Supreme Court.
The name of the victim and details that could lead to her identification have been suppressed. Ofisa Tagaloa was the Prosecutor while Leota Raymond Schuster represented the accused.
Ututaaloga is married with six children. He is a member of the L.D.S. Church at Solosolo.
The Court heard the rape took place after church at Solosolo.
“The victim was 12-years-old at the time and was in Year 6 and the accused is the uncle of the victim’s father."
“On a Sunday during that time period the victim, the accused his wife and children had left for church and upon return from church they had to’anai and after cleaning up, the victim went into her room to do some homework."
“The accused went into the victim’s room and he asked her in a low voice to remove her clothes."
When she refused, he forcibly removed her clothes.
“He laid her down on the floor took of his temple clothes and raped her, she was moving around and crying from the pain. After he was done he got up put his clothes back on and left outside.”
The victim told the Court the accused raped her twice.
“During the time of the offence the wife of the accused was doing her washing.”
According to the pre-sentence report the accused was 51years old at the time.
“His brother and son said the accused is caring and humble; he’s supportive of his family and active in their village matters. The village mayor and the Bishop provided two testimonials in his favor."
“The Bishop says that the accused is an active member of the church holding positions within the church and belonging to one of most devoted families in the congregation." He says the accused is "humble, quiet and reliable."
“According to the village mayor the accused is a matai of the village of Solosolo who is reliable and knowledgeable in village and family matters."
“There is also a medical report from Dr. Titi Lamese on the 6th March, 2015, the accused was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and started treatment."
“He has already been fined with $3500 and beast cattle to the village. The probation did not make any recommendation for sentence but he is a first offender.”
The rape has had a huge impact on the victim.
“Ever since the incident she is scared of the accused."
“In school she said she tends to sleep most times in class and cannot focus on her studies. She no longer goes to school and she does not want to go back to school because of what happened.”
In reading out the aggravating features of the crime, Justice Tafaoimalo said the offending was a breach of trust between the accused and the victim.
“She was 12 years old and the younger the victim of a sexual offense the greater the need for protection,” said Justice Tafaoimalo.
“The age difference between the victim and the accused 39 years is also an aggravating feature."
It is also aggravating that the accused is a close relative of the victim.
“He was given a responsibility to the victim as the victim lived with his family and attends school. This is what we called in our culture 'nofo aoga.'"
“The accused is the uncle of the father of the victim and he was expected to protect her child in his family, instead he took advantage of that power and has caused extreme pain and sufferings to this child who was under his protection."
“The breach of trust in this case is significant.”
During her decision, Justice Tafaoimalo sent out a strong warning with the sentence.
“This is to protect the community from the accused,” she said.
“This protection is particular for the children who are the most vulnerable members of any community."
“Now it is a concern of the court that this offending occurred within the centre of a home committed by a family member."
“A strong message from this sentence is that a breach of trust is unacceptable and the Court will take a tough stand against this type of offending."
“There is a Samoan saying 'A malu i fale, e malu fo’i i fafo' which means if you are safe in your family, you will be safe outside of your family.”