14 Jun 2006

American Samoa sex offender ruled incompetent to stand trial

9:29 am on 14 June 2006

American Samoan officials are trying to decide what to do about a man accused of sexual assault who has been found incompetent to stand trial.

Flower salesman, Iosefo Vitale, is charged with sexually assaulting a girl who is also mentally challenged.

The Chief of Mental Health at the LBJ Hospital, Dr. Lal, has told the court that Vitale suffers from a neurological disorder for which there is no treatment.

He says Vitale does not know right from wrong and is unable to assist in his own defence.

Deputy Attorney General Frederick OBrien informed the court that the government would move to dismiss the charge against Vitale.

Vitale's attorney Assistant Public Defender Lawrence Wilson told the court that a custodial sentence would not be appropriate as Vitale has not been found to be a danger to himself or to society.

He said options being explored include off-island treatment or appointment of a conservator to care for the defendant.