Otago Daily Times
Detention for impregnating impaired victim
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