Otago Daily Times

De­ten­tion for im­preg­nat­ing im­paired vic­tim

- MELISSA NIGHTIN­GALE

WELLING­TON: An Auck­land man has been sen­tenced for sex­ual ex­ploita­tion af­ter a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cantly in­tel­lec­tu­ally im­paired’’ wo­man’s shocked fam­ily dis­cov­ered she was preg­nant.

The wo­man was so im­paired that she was un­able to ap­pre­ci­ate that she was preg­nant or ex­plain to her fam­ily how it hap­pened, a court has heard.

Sale Tu­ma­ialu (44) was sen­tenced for the crime on Septem­ber 29 in Welling­ton, de­spite the of­fend­ing hap­pen­ing more than a decade ago.

Ac­cord­ing to sen­tenc­ing notes, Tu­ma­ialu lived near the wo­man in Lower Hutt in 2008.

‘‘The vic­tim, be­ing a sig­nif­i­cantly in­tel­lec­tu­ally im­paired wo­man, lived with her fam­ily,’’ Judge Denys Barry of the Welling­ton District Court said in his notes.

Tu­ma­ialu was about 32 years old at the time but was ‘‘un­known to the fam­ily’’.

‘‘In May 2009 the vic­tim gave birth to a baby boy. The fact of the preg­nancy came as a great shock to the fam­ily.’’

For rea­sons that were not ex­plained in the judge­ment, po­lice did not in­ter­view Tu­ma­ialu un­til 2016.

‘‘He pro­vided a DNA sam­ple which matched that of the child, pro­vid­ing vir­tu­ally in­con­tro­vert­ible sci­en­tific sup­port that he was the child’s fa­ther.’’

Po­lice charged him with sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of a sig­nif­i­cantly im­paired per­son in 2018.

Tu­ma­ialu told po­lice he could not re­mem­ber if he’d ever had sex with the vic­tim, be­cause of his heavy drink­ing and drug use at the time.

He said he re­mem­bered a girl that lived in the area who looked to be about 21, and would come to his house ask­ing for money or cig­a­rettes.

‘‘He did not know, in his words, ‘that she was sick’. He ac­cepted, when shown a pic­ture by the po­lice, that the vic­tim was the same girl.’’

He de­nied hav­ing a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with the vic­tim but said it was pos­si­ble a one­night stand might have hap­pened — but he could not re­mem­ber.

In a vic­tim im­pact state­ment, the wo­man’s mother de­scribed how the fam­ily ‘‘de­scended into com­plete chaos’’ af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the preg­nancy.

She lives with the vic­tim and the child, who is now 9 years old.

‘‘She speaks of how a preg­nancy test con­firmed her fears and how she was in to­tal shock, how the fam­ily de­scended into com­plete chaos and in fact the re­la­tion­ship with her part­ner dis­in­te­grated in the af­ter­math of this,’’ Judge Barry said.

By the time it was dis­cov­ered, the vic­tim was too far along for an abor­tion, causing her mother to spi­ral into de­pres­sion, al­co­hol abuse, and ‘‘daily ex­haus­tion’’.

The boy was now start­ing to ask ques­tions about who his fa­ther was and the fam­ily re­mained ‘‘hurt and hurt­ing’’.

Tu­ma­ialu had a crim­i­nal history rang­ing from 1996 to 2016, but not for any sim­i­lar of­fend­ing.

His de­fence lawyer said in 2008 Tu­ma­ialu’s life was ‘‘mired in drugs, al­co­hol abuse and hope­less­ness, liv­ing hand to mouth vir­tu­ally on the street’’, Judge Barry said.

He was now in a sta­ble re­la­tion­ship of eight years and had been sober for that time as well.

A cul­tural re­port showed Tu­ma­ialu and his fam­ily be­came cul­tur­ally and so­cially ‘‘dis­lo­cated’’ when they moved to New Zealand, and Tu­ma­ialu fell into ‘‘a bad crowd’’.

In de­cid­ing a sen­tence, Judge Barry said the big­gest ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor was not just the ef­fect the sex­ual ac­tiv­ity had on the vic­tim, ‘‘who is prob­a­bly bliss­fully less af­fected than any­one else’’, but how ‘‘dev­as­tat­ing the rip­ple ef­fects of that sex­ual ac­tiv­ity and that preg­nancy have been on the vic­tim’s fam­ily’’.

He al­lowed dis­counts to the sen­tence for Tu­ma­ialu’s change in life­style, the cul­tural fac­tors, Tu­ma­ialu’s ac­cep­tance of re­spon­si­bil­ity, and his guilty plea.

He sen­tenced Tu­ma­ialu to nine months of home de­ten­tion with six months of post­re­lease con­di­tions. — The New Zealand Herald

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