White Sunday molester found guilty
A man has been found guilty of sexually molesting a seven-year-old girl on the White Sunday 2018 public holiday in Savai'i.
Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren has ordered that the name of the victim be suppressed.
The guilty verdict for Ieremia Faletagaloa was reached on the victim's ninth birthday by a panel of five assessors.
The defendant denied all four charges against him: one count of sexual connection by way of digital penetration; one count of attempted sexual connection for trying to have sexual intercourse with her and two counts of indecent acts for making forcible contact with the victim's private area.
He was found guilty of sexual connection by way of digital penetration and one count of an indecent act for rubbing his penis on the victim's vagina against her will.
When Faletagaloa took the witness stand on Friday, he denied all testimony that entered into evidence during the two-day trial.
He said the victim, her parents and the policewoman who read a statement he had made aloud in court and his own brother had all lied in court. He maintained that he was the only person who told the court the truth.
The young girl was playing and picking flowers with her cousins on 15 October 2018 when Faletagaloa, the court heard, called her name from a nearby house.
The victim told the court the defendant grabbed her forcefully and made her lie down next to him; undressed her, tied her hands up at one point and tried to force her to perform oral sex on him. She said he kissed her and fondled her.
Faletagaloa denied all the charges and said he never did any of those things.
He also denied having apologised to the victim and her family because he didn't do anything.
The defendant said his brother, Logologo Faigalotu, lied when he told the court there were multiple apologies where the victim expressed remorse and promised to own up to his actions while on his knees.
The defence argued that Faletagaloa is not a liar and that there was no physical evidence presented by the prosecution to prove that his client did anything to the girl.
There was no medical report from a doctor, the defence said.
The panel of assessors returned with a guilty verdict on two of the four charges.
The prosecutors on the case were Fuifui Ioane and Avei Faasii.
The defence attorney was Ponifasio Joe Tuala.
Faletagaloa will be sentenced on 10 July.