A Tongan man pleaded not guilty Friday to charges alleging he raped a 17-year-old girl at least five times.
Viliami Tuakoi, 59, entered his pleas to three felonies in Natrona County District Court through an interpreter who participated in the hearing by phone.
When Judge Thomas Sullins asked Tuakoi how he pleaded, he spoke in Tongan before the interpreter’s voice was heard through a courtroom speaker.
Public defender Dylan Rosalez then requested a reduction of bond from $50,000 to $5,000. He said Tuakoi was a legal permanant resident and had surrendered his passport when he entered the country. Tuakoi has family in the area and would be unlikely to flee, Rosalez said.
Prosecutor Nathan Shumway said Tuakoi does not have a significant criminal history. He went on to say the “enormity” of the charges and Tuakoi’s non-citizen status made him likely to flee.
Sullins kept the bond requirement at $50,000 and Tuakoi remained in custody.
Prosecutors allege that Tuakoi forced the girl from a bed onto the floor so other people in the house would not hear the assault. The girl told investigators that she tried to make noise during the assaults so that someone might hear and intervene, according to heavily redacted court documents.
Tuakoi held the girl down during the course of at least one assault, the documents state.
Over the course of two interviews with Natrona County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Tuakoi admitted to sexually assaulting the girl, according to court documents. The interviews were conducted in March.
Tuakoi faces three felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor. A conviction on each count can be punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment.