Vava‘u police officer jailed for indecently assaulting of wife’s niece

A police officer has been sent to prison for two years with the last 12 months being suspended after indecently assaulting a cousin of his children.

Vava’u Acting Officer in Charge Mu’a Ki Faleula ‘Otuhouma, 55, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of serious indecent assault.

According to the summary of facts, the victim – who Kaniva is calling Tina – was home alone after her parents left the house on 17 October 2023,  to go to their bush allotment.

At about 11am, Tina took a shower and dried herself before sitting on a chair in front of her dresser.

She then messaged a friend to come and stay with her as she was at home by herself.  

While she was still sitting naked on the chair, she was taken by surprise when ‘Otuhouma suddenly stood at the door to her room. Tina quickly fumbled around to find something to cover herself but she could not get hold of anything. She put one hand to cover her pubic hair area and one hand to cover her breasts in an attempt to cover her nakedness.

By that time, ‘Otuhouma had walked over to her and mumbled something that sounded like “sitting there like Adam”. He then forcefully pushed her hand away from her breasts and bent his head and sucked her breast. She tried to push him away from her and kept saying “go away”.  

‘Otuhouma continued trying to push her hands away and she struggled and tried to kick him. ‘Otuhouma stepped back and she was able to throw a bottle of lotion at him. However, he came back towards her and continued kissing her neck and tried to kiss her mouth.  

During his assault she still had her phone in her hand, and she was able to send another message to her friend to come quickly. While ‘Otuhouma was kissing up her neck she heard her friend calling out her name. ‘Otuhouma suddenly let go of her and walked out of the room.

Her friend came into the room and kept asking what had happened, but she was unable to reply as she was shaking and still in shock. After a while she was able to tell her friend what ‘Otuhouma had done. They remained in the room until they heard the toilet being flushed before ‘Otuhouma’s vehicle leaving.

On 24 October 2023, Police interviewed ‘Otuhouma. He did not cooperate and exercised his right to remain silent.

Victim’s impact statement

A counsel was able to talk to Tina on 23 April 2024. As mentioned in her evidence in Court, she said the families used to be so close, and she used to even have sleepovers at ‘Otuhouma’s house. Tina looked up to him as her uncle and that she is the same age as his oldest daughter. Now, the families do not speak to each other, and she would hear or sense people gossiping that she had an affair with ‘Otuhouma. The offending ruined her life.

At times, staying in her room is difficult given the offending occurred in the room. Tina sometimes thought that she was better off dead. She blamed herself for what had happened and how complaining to the Police has ruined their family ties.

At the time, she was taking courses with Pathway Connect and BYU. She was almost done with the courses when the offending happened which it stopped her studies altogether.

 She left for New Zealand in 2023 and fears coming back to Vava’u as people will talk and will still feel hurt about it. Tina also received a message on 23 April 2024, through Facebook from what looks to be a fake page telling her she was having an affair with her mother’s sister’s husband.

She would not accept an apology from ‘Otuhouma even if he made one, but if his children reached out to her, she would be delighted to keep seeing them as cousins.

Tina’s mother shared her daughter’s experience. She said both families were quite close prior to the offending. Both parents agreed they trust ‘Otuhouma not only because of their close family bond but because he was a Police Officer.

‘Otuhouma would come to their house even when they were not home and sometimes when he came at night, he didn’t  knock or called out or turned on the lights. They would only know that it was him when they heard someone in the kitchen. They would call out then he would identify himself.

Most times when they went to the bush, they left the house unlocked because nothing bad had ever happened in their neighbourhood.

She said: “She no longer feels safe in her own home, and has to lock the door, and feels the need to stay home”.

Both parents stated, if ‘Otuhouma were to apologise, they would not accept it.

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