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Former Boys & Girls Club employee gets year in jail

Victoria Satoafaiga sexually assaulted girl when she was assistant director

Victoria Satoafaiga

WAILUKU — Saying a former Boys & Girls Clubs employee took advantage of her authority when she sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl at the agency’s Central Maui clubhouse, a judge has sentenced the woman to one year in jail.

Victoria Satoafaiga, 30, of Waikapu was taken into custody Wednesday after she was sentenced.

“You gave the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui a black eye by your behavior,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo told Satoafaiga. “This is a place that should have been a safe haven for this child. All children should be able to go there knowing it’s going to be a safe place.

“You took advantage of this position of trust, took advantage of her vulnerability and her struggles.”

Last March, Satoafaiga pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of fourth-degree sexual assault and second-degree custodial interference. A felony charge was dismissed in exchange for her pleas.

The victim reported she was sexually assaulted by Satoafaiga in an upper room at the Central Maui clubhouse, where Satoafaiga was assistant director, in March 2017, according to court records.

Police began investigating after the girl’s guardian saw she was up late using her phone one night and took away the device, Loo noted.

After seeing inappropriate and explicit text messages on the phone, “he got very concerned,” Loo said. When he questioned the girl further, she said she was texting with Satoafaiga.

Police documented 15,978 text messages exchanged between the girl and Satoafaiga, who used her personal phone as well as her Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui work phone, over a four-month period, Loo said.

In October 2017, Satoafaiga arranged to meet the girl near the clubhouse and took her to the Kahului breakwater, police reported.

When her guardians couldn’t find the girl when they went to pick her up at about 4:30 p.m., “we spent hours frantically looking for her,” the girl’s guardian wrote in a letter to the court.

He said family members and police officers searched for the girl without finding her that night. At 3 in the morning, her guardians got a call from Satoafaiga’s partner reporting the girl was at their home.

The girl was found with hickeys on her chest, police said.

“Victoria has no boundaries with the welfare and safety of our child,” the girl’s guardian wrote. “We would like to see that she never be allowed to be working with children in the future.”

At the request of the defense, Satoafaiga’s sentencing had been delayed until Wednesday.

She asked for a chance to keep the misdemeanor convictions off her record.

Her attorney, Hayden Aluli, said she has no prior criminal history and argued she was unlikely to commit another crime.

The prosecution opposed the request, with Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Coccaro saying that the crime didn’t warrant the deferral.

In denying Satoafaiga’s request, Judge Loo said, “The behavior here is just the opposite of what the Boys & Girls Club is supposed to be.”

“This matter should and will be on your record,” Loo told Satoafaiga.

Coccaro said the facts of the case, involving a Boys & Girls Club director preying on a child, should cause anyone to take notice.

“She knew this child had been cutting herself,” Coccaro said. “That’s a sign of pretty severe emotional needs. She targeted this girl who was struggling, very obviously struggling.”

The girl was living with relatives because her father is a drug addict who was incarcerated and her mother died early, Coccaro said.

She said Satoafaiga seemed to be in denial, calling the girl “the alleged victim” in a letter to the court.

“She only caused more problems for a very emotionally needy, struggling child,” Coccaro said. “She is not taking full responsibility. This is not somebody that should ever be around children, in every stretch of the imagination.”

Speaking in court, Satoafaiga said, “I know I let a lot of people down.”

“A lot of what has been said is true and a lot of what has been said is also not true,” she said. “I know these charges filed against me is not who I am.

“I honestly tried to help this minor and I couldn’t do it and I got myself stuck in a hard situation. I’m learning to ask for help and I didn’t do that with this minor. I have succeeded prior with kids who are suicidal and unhappy by just talking to them.”

After spending time with the girl from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during spring and winter breaks, “she was able to get to know me — know anything, everything about me,” Satoafaiga said.

“I feel for her, and I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m truly sorry and I wish none of this happened.”

Judge Loo noted that Satoafaiga was 27 at the time and had bought earrings and clothing for the girl and had sent inappropriate photos of herself.

“You definitely had the upper hand,” Loo said. “You were the director. You were the supervisor. You were the one in control.

“A 27-year-old knows twice as much as a 12-year-old. You know where to draw the line.

“She obviously was a struggling child. As good as your intentions may have been, you did cross the line here.”

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.