Sex case against former teacher bound over to High Court
Members of the media were banned from the Preliminary Examination hearing set today for Senetenari Lameta Malele also known as Dr Sentinol, facing sex charges involving several of his female students.
This is the second PX scheduled for Malele, the first one last month, the charges were dismissed without prejudice, however, the government re-filed the case within 24 hours after the dismissal.
All the victims, in this case, are 14 years old.
Malele who resigned as a public teacher, in light of the criminal charges is out on a surety bond of $20,000.
He is facing 15 criminal charges including two charges of sexual abuse first degree, seven counts of assault third degree; and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Prior to the hearing that was held before District Court Judge Pro-Temp, JC Clemens KVZK reporter was told it is a closed hearing.
The primary purpose of a preliminary examination is for the judge to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a felony occurred and that the accused is the person who committed it.
Outside of court, Deputy Marshal, Michael Nix said the court is protecting the minors' identities in this matter.
KVZK points out that in our court's stories, the identities of the victims are not revealed.
After the hearing, a High Court clerk confirmed with KVZK news the case against Malele has been bound over to the High Court and it is set for arraignment on May 10, 2023.
According to the criminal affidavit, on March 29, 2023, a woman and her daughter filed a complaint with the Police regarding “an incident that occurred at the Pavaia’i Elementary School involving a 7th-grade male teacher.”
The mother told Police, her daughter said she was not comfortable going back to school, alleging that her teacher, Malele touched her inappropriately on two separate occasions.
During the first incident in March, it's alleged that Malele called her to his desk and then touched her inappropriately, and then asked her if he should stop, but she was afraid to put a stop to it because she feared that it would cost her her grades; “so she didn't say anything.”
The criminal affidavit says the student told Police that when she told her classmate what occurred, it's alleged that the second female student claimed that also happened to her.
According to the criminal court affidavit, two other two female students claimed that Malele also touched them inappropriately.