Short Takes from the CNMI

June 11, 2010


Arrest at Juvenile Detention Center

Tyron Farley Reyes Fitial, a guard at the Juvenile Detention Center was arrested for forcing a juvenile female to engage in sex acts while she was being held at the facility. An indictment was filed in the Federal District Court of the NMI on June 10, 2010 charging Fitial with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. From the indictment:
COUNT ONE
DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF LAW
On or about October, 2009, through February, 2010, the exact dates being unknown to the Grand Jury, in the District of the Northern Mariana Islands, TYRON FARLEY REYES FITIAL, the Defendant, did knowingly and willfully act under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, and custom to deprive (hereafter “V.S.”), a person in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who has attained the age of 12 years, but has not attained the age of 16 years, of rights secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, namely, the right to personal bodily integrity, and the right to be free of unauthorized and unlawful physical abuse by state intrusion, by coercing V.S., by means of force and threats, to engage in sexual acts while V.S. was a ward of the Kagman Juvenile Detention and Correctional Facility, in violation of Section 242 of Title 18 of the United States Code. (Title 18, United States Code, Section 242).
A protective order was also filed to protect the minor's identity. All court documents containing her name will be sealed. Attorney Bruce Mailman was appointed guardian ad litem to make recommendations to the court concerning the welfare of the minor child.

Apparently there may be other problems at the facility. The Saipan Tribune reports:
Leonardo M. Rapadas, U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the CNMI, said that Fitial's arrest comes as part of a wider and ongoing investigation into abusive behavior by guards at the Kagman Detention Facility.

Saipan Tribune learned that FBI agents, assisted by members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, and Department of Public Safety, served the arrest warrant on the 24-year-old Fitial at a residence on Capital Hill yesterday morning.

Fitial was taken to federal court yesterday afternoon for his initial appearance. He was accompanied by court-appointed counsel Loren Sutton.
This is a really terrible case that appears to be part of an ongoing investigation. Have other guards been abusive? What are the qualifications to be a guard at the Juvenile Detention Center?

From the Tribune:
In a press statement, Rapadas said Fitial is charged with violating a person's civil rights when he used his position of authority to force the person, a minor child, to engage in sexual acts while the minor was in custody.

“Guards at any correction facility have a duty to protect detainees from injury and degradation, especially when those detainees are merely children,” Rapadas said.

He said the FBI leads the investigation while assistant U.S. attorney James Benedetto will prosecute the case.
I am unsure what the charge actually means. Perhaps there are other charges that the CNMI OAG will file against this guard who is accused of sexually assaulting a child?

Governor Signs Filipino Friendship Month Proclamation

Governor Fitial proclaimed June as Northern Marianas Islands-Philippines Friendship Month. According to the Saipan Tribune:
“Everybody who wants to stay here is always welcome,” Fitial said, although he has always qualified that foreign workers came here to fulfill an employment contract and not to seek citizenship.

He said foreign workers here are protected and respected.
Actually, yes, everyone is welcome as labor units or as disposable commodities to provide a service to the CNMI, but not as future citizens.

I am glad to hear that the governor respects the Filipinos. Since actions speaks louder than words, perhaps now he can demonstrate that respect by ensuring that every outstanding administrative order and unpaid judgment is paid. Some Filipinos and other foreign workers have been waiting for years for thousand that are owed to them by unscrupulous employers who have been allowed to cheat workers under the CNMI labor system.

The governor also claimed that Filipinos are protected in the CNMI. He could also prove that he is sincere by provide the Filipino foreign workers and their families true protection by backing the DOI Report.

The Saipan Tribune quoted Fitial:
After the ceremony, Fitial told Macaraig that Filipinos in the CNMI “understand and respect the meaning of respect.”

“The only people who are creating all these confusion are the activists who are not Filipinos. You can quote [me on] that,” Fitial told Saipan Tribune.
What confusion? Like challenging the validity of PL 17-1? Like requesting that unpaid judgments be paid? Like submitting Open Government Act requests to the administration? Like standing up for people's rights? Like trying to clarify the meaning of federal statements and policies? Like supporting a pathway to citizenship for long-term foreign contract workers?

What is the governor's definition of respect? Is respect merely an unconditional expression of esteem that is or should be bestowed upon everyone?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

How many criminals with the last name of Fitial, in the last few months have I read in the paper.I wonder if this is the same one or is this whole family a bunch of crooks?

Anonymous said...

Given that this is a federal investigation, it seems much more likely that any further charges will be filed by the NMI USAO rather than the CNMI OAG.

Generally law enforcement cannot discuss ongoing investigations, but my guess is that there are other potential defendants. Sometimes there can be just one bad apple, but often there is an institutional "culture" of indifference or worse that allows such things to occur.

Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

speaking of fitial, have you seen his new website?

http://benfitial.net/

the only language choices are chamorro or carolinian.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 5:04 I thought sexual assault and rape were charges that were filed by local officials. I hope I am wrong, because if the allegations are true then a law enforcement agency should investigate and charge this man with sexual assault charges. I am not confident that the OAG that seems to follows the whims and orders of the governor would investigate and file charges. I could be wrong and I hope that I am wrong.

I would like to know when these alleged abuses occurred and who was the commissioner at the time. What is the current DOC commissioner doing about this? I am assuming that he is aiding the FBI with their investigation?

Anonymous said...

The DYS facility is under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs. As everyone knows, that department has connections to the administration. So is there more going on at DYS that may be covered up?

Saipan Writer said...

It's a pretty sad day when DYS, the agency put in charge of investigating charges of sex abuse of minors and protecting our children, has an employee who is now charged with crimes based on allegations of sex abuse of a minor, committed while the child was in DYS care.

I agree with anon (5/12 5:04 PM) that we're not likely to see charges from the CNMI OAG. As Anon (June 13, 8:43 PM) says, the DCCA is too close to the Governor, as is the OAG--and they're not going to investigate and prosecute his nephew, unless he tells them to.

Anonymous said...

Under the Petite Policy the feds generally don't prosecute based on the same facts if a situation is adequately addressed by a local government.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/2mcrm.htm#9-2.031

I would expect the OAG would follow a similar principle. Why waste scarce prosecutorial resources if the other guys are already on top of it?

The USAO should be able to send the Governor's nephew Tyron off to prison for a good while. Now if he is aquitted in federal court, then we may want to see the CNMI OAG take another try at it.

Can anyone translate the statement on this website into English?

http://benfitial.net