18 July 2019, Apia Samoa. A 20 year old who was 18 at the time of offending has been found guilty by a panel of asessors for the rape of a 6 year old girl in March of 2017.
Name suppression for the victim was issued by Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren.
20 year old Tamapaa also known as “Paa” of Utualii was represented by Alex Su’a and Rebecca Schuster. On the first day of proceedings defense counsels argued that the defendant had not been given the right to remain silent during the police arrest. During proceedings however defense opted for the accused to not give evidence.
The incident occurred in March of 2017 after a game of rugby at the Leulumoega field where the victim had stayed to watch while on the way home from school.
The victim who was in Year 1 at the time was on the way home from school unsupervised, and stopped to watch the rugby game.
The victim, now 8 years old, had to take the stand and describe how “Pa’a” had followed her while she was walking to her house, further inland from the main road. She said it was after the rugby game at the Leulumoega College field.
She said Paa asked her to come with him so she followed him to the bush (togavao).
“Sa ou savali ae mulimuli mai Paa i tua o lo’u patua. Sa faimai ou te alu atu ona ou alu ai lea.”
The victim said Paa told her to take off her clothes but she refused so he removed her clothes, placed them by a nearby tree and then returned with his own clothes removed.
The victim was made to explain the details of the rape in open Court. She said Pa’a raped her and made her perform oral sex on him.
During cross examination defense counsel Alex Su’a put it to the victim that Paa did not do these things to her, but the victim insisted.
“E sa’o pe a ou fa’apea atu e leai se mea fa’apena na tupu?”
“Sa kago ga ia fai.”
The victim’s mother also testified and recalled the day her daughter came home after the incident.
She said her daughter had complained during her bath that she was feeling pain in her vagina.
The victim’s mother however told the Court that she had smacked her daughter when she said this because she immediately became suspicious of her husband.
“Sa ou tago lava sasa, ma sa ou masalosalo i lo’u to’alua ona o le tele lava o taimi e nofo atu ai i le matou fale ma le ma fanau ae ou alu e ave le meaai a lo’u tina i tai.”
Asked by defense counsel why she had been suspicious of her husband the victim’s mother said that it was because such incidents between fathers and daughters are common.
“Ona o le tele fo’i o mea faapea o lo’o tutupu i lenei vaitau i tamā ma a latou fanau o le mafuaaga lena na ou masalosalo ai.”
The victim’s mother said she asked her daughter if her father had done anything to her but she said no. During the hearing defense counsel had also asked the victim if her father had done anything like this to her to which she responded no, “leai”.
Outside Court defense counsel Alex Su’a said the defendant came from an extremely unstable family.
Evident outside Court was the absence of fathers. The defendant’s mother was the lone supporter seen at the Court house. Asked about his father she gave the common saying in Samoa that describes the situation of single mothers, with fathers “missing in action”.
“O la’u tama tama lea e tupu ai le faalavelave; e leai se tamā, o la e alu ile taua.”
The young victim sat patiently outside the Court house waiting her turn to go inside, with her mother and grandmother being the only family members present.
The victim’s mother said her husband was busy.
“O la e pisi.”
Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren who recently handed down 28 years for attempted murder in a case of intimate partner violence will set sentence next month.