Former S.W.A. staffer guilty of indecent assault

A former employee of the Samoa Water Authority accused of indecently assaulting a female colleague has been found guilty. 

The Acting Chief Justice, Her Honour Niava Mata Tuatagaloa handed down the verdict for Pili Vitale, finding him guilty of three charges on Tuesday afternoon. 

Mr. Vitale who was represented by lawyer Steve Chan Chui pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent assault and one count of intent to commit sexual assault in May last year. 

In a verbal decision, the Acting Chief Justice said she was satisfied that the prosecution had proven the three charges against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt.

The lawyer for the Office of the Attorney General, Lucy Sio Ofoia, was the prosecutor in the matter.  

Mr. Vitale has been remanded on bail, pending his next appearance on 2 April for pre-sentence reports. 

The complainant in the matter is Saitilofia Puipuia of Maagiagi. 

The offending occurred on 8th May 2020 at the S.W.A. office at the  Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi (T.A.T.T.E.) building. 

According to the evidence from the complainant, she was working late to complete outstanding work while the defendant returned to the office after leaving earlier. 

During the trial, she said she did not give consent to the defendant to touch her or carry out any sexual activity. 

She later reported the incident to one of the Authority’s Managers, who referred it to Corporate Services. 

A former Manager of S.W.A., Heseti Sione Vaai testified that the complainant appeared upset and was shaken when she came to see her the following day.

The office subsequently carried out an investigation into the complaint and was referred to the Police for criminal charges.  

Mr. Vitale on the other hand claims that he was in a “blind relationship” with the victim. 

Several employees from S.W.A. gave evidence in the court hearing, called last week. 

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