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Father jailed 21 years for rape of eight-year-old stepdaughter

Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren yesterday jailed a man, who raped his eight-year-old stepdaughter twice, for 21 years.

The 26-year-old man, who blamed the girl for being “seductive” towards him, was found guilty of two charges of rape, one count of unlawful sexual connection and indecent act on a child by a panel of Assessors.

 “She is a child and she was violated in a most cruel way,” Justice Tafaoimalo said in her decision. “An 8-year-old child should not have to go through this ordeal.”

Details that could identify the child were supressed by the Court. 

While the man’s identity was not supressed, the Samoa Observer has decided against the publication of his name because it could identify the victim.

During the hearing in November last year, the Court was told the victim does not live with her mother and stepfather.

She only visited them on White Sunday in 2017.  That’s when the offending took place, when the mother had gone to work leaving the defendant with the victim and her younger siblings. 

On both occasions, the defendant had sex with the young girl.

“This offending was premeditated,” she said. 

 “He created situations to get her alone with him. He committed these offences when his wife had gone to work. The fact that he raped her twice indicates a high level of premeditation. He planned what to do and carried it out twice.”

Justice Tafaoimalo noted the girl’s vulnerability, especially given her age.

“The victim was particularly vulnerable by reason not only of her age of 8 years but also by reason of the relationship she had to the accused.  He was the in affect her parent when she stayed with him and her mother.

“The extent of the harm to the victim is taken into account and this was a serious violation of the victim’s sexual autonomy. 

“She is a child and she was violated in a most cruel way. She bled after the first act of sexual intercourse. An 8-year-old child should not have to go through this ordeal. This is a significant aggravating factor.” 

Justice Tafaoimalo noted that one of the most disturbing aspects of this sentence is that the defendant had blamed the eight-year-old girl for being ‘seductive’ towards him.

 “This is highly implausible and demonstrates an inability to fully accept his actions. Any discount for remorse on his part will be given with this in mind,” she said.

“Deterrence will be of paramount consideration in today’s sentence. The rape of a child is unacceptable and inexcusable, particularly so in a family situation where a child should rightly have an expectation that she or he is safe and protected by the adults in the family. 

“This behaviour needs to be expunged for the sake of this country’s children. Today the Court will play its role in purging our county of this deplorable behaviour.”

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