Rangatahi says death threats from sex abuser

By Contributor

The man is on trial at the Manukau District Court where he faces 33 sexual abuse charges. Photo / NZME

By Ellen Thompson, Open Justice Multimedia Journalist, Tāmaki Makaurau

A teenager who was allegedly sexually abused as an 8-year-old has told the court how the man involved would threaten her to make sure she didn't tell anyone.

"If you tell anyone about what I do to you, I will beat you until you die," the now 19-year-old said while giving evidence in the Manukau District Court today.

She's one of two young women who were allegedly abused as children over a period of four years by 45-year-old Tulisi Leiataua.

The girls were aged between 8 and 12 when the abuse allegedly started in 2010 and Leiataua is now facing 33 sexual abuse charges.

Today a police interview video taken in 2015 was shown to the court.

The video showed the then 12-year-old girl speaking about being "touched and forced to do things she didn't want to do".

"He would lock the door and force me to do things, he would ask me if I loved him and I would say no, I would cry and try running away.

"But he would just grab me and chuck me back on the bed where he would take off my clothes and pull my undies down."

In the video, the young girl mentioned how she couldn't tell anyone because everyone would think she was lying.

"He would laugh and smile, he would say, 'shame on you, no one believes you'," said the young woman, who has automatic name suppression.

Today, Crown prosecutor Aysser Al-Janabi asked her whether she had told the police everything that had happened to her.

She responded by saying she hadn't shared everything that had happened to her and went on to describe another incident she says happened to her.

On Friday, the other complainant, who is now 24, told the court she was 12 when Leiataua started bribing her with treats, commenting on her body and telling her he planned to marry her when she was older.

Defence lawyer Panama Le'au'anae put it to the woman that she made it up and was actually having a consensual relationship with Leiataua - something she was quick to deny.

"This man made me feel like I was a dog ... what he did to me was never consensual," she replied as tears ran down her cheeks.

In May 2014, Leiataua left New Zealand for Samoa. Six months later the sexual abuse complaints were made against him but it wasn't until March 2020 that a Samoan District Court judge accepted an extradition application so Leiataua could face the allegations.

He was brought back to New Zealand soon after and arrested at Auckland Airport.

The jury trial, which is taking place in front of Judge Richard Earwaker, is set to take two weeks.

Later this week Leiataua is expected to give evidence.

He's accused of four counts of sexual violation by rape, three counts of an indecent act with a young person, one count of indecent assault, 10 counts of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, seven counts of other sexual violations, two counts of other assault on a child and six charges of an indecent act on a child.

Where to get help

If you have concerns or suspicions about someone who may be trading in or producing child sexual abuse images or videos, contact Customs confidentially on 0800 WE PROTECT (0800 937 768) or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you are, or know of, someone who is at risk or being abused, contact the police immediately.