Stepfather sentenced to 15 years in jail for rape
APIA: 14th June 2012: Tapua’i Lavilavi, 43 years old was sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping his stepdaughter six years ago.
According to the summary of facts the defendant is a stepfather to three children, the complainant is the eldest child. When the incident took place in 2006 the victim was only 15 years old and attending Vaipouli College.
During that year while on school leave from the hostel the complainant went to stay with her mother and the defendant at her mother’s village. On the night of incident she went to get a towel from her mother’s room but when she called her mother to open the door the defendant opened it and dragged her inside the room by covering her mouth with his hand. She tried to escape but he punched her causing her to become unconscious and then raped her.
When she regained conscious she felt dizzy and was bleeding and had bruises on her breasts. The young girl was a virgin before the act was committed.
She then called out for her mother and the matter was resolved by the family and they tried to cover it up. The matter only came to light in 2011when the defendant met the victim at Salelologa market and insulted her by calling her a paumuku (prostitute). He also tried to kill her by running her over with his car.
Prosecution however had requested for the matter to be withdrawn.
“You should be careful of that. This was a serious rape which occurred in a family environment,” said Justice Vui Clarence Nelson.
He reprimanded the victim’s parents for covering up the matter. “Both have failed horribly as parents.”
The mother actively participated in covering up the incident. “If this was the covering up of a murder I wonder if the Prosecution could charge the mother. Shame on you, you are not fit to be a parent,” he said.
“This case was committed in the circle of the victim’s family.”
Justice Nelson said that kids should be free from sexual abuse especially from the caregiver. The 22 year age gap between the victim and the offender also needed to be deterred as it was becoming more common especially between father or stepfather and daughter incidents.
A starting point of 20 years was imposed but mitigating factors of the defendant being a first offender, entering an early guilty plea and also the defendant showing remorse for what had happened had been deducted leaving a balance of 15 years.
“I do not think that covering up of a criminal offence is a mitigating factor,” said Justice Nelson as presented by the defendant’s lawyer, Papali’i Ta’eu Masepa’u.
The name, village and other details that might reveal the victim’s identity have been suppressed by the court.