Three Pohnpei correctional officers charged with abuses of Chuukese prisoner in their custody

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

March 18, 2020

Pohnpei—On March 13, 2020, the FSM Department of Justice filed criminal charges against three correctional officers of the Pohnpei State Correctional Facility.  M.C. Ioanis, Robert Celestine, and Isabella Sipwoli Primo each face charges of Deprivation of Rights, Official Repression, and Assault against a female inmate at the prison.

On March 13, the FSM Supreme Court in Chuuk sentenced Anreta Fred and her husband Jayson Jappan of Fananu, Chuuk to eight months of probation and 92 months in prison after having been convicted of Human Trafficking, Trafficking in Children, Aggravated Human Trafficking and Conspiracy.  Jappan is serving his prison term in the Kosrae Correctional Facility.  Fred is serving her sentence in Pohnpei.

The charges say that in approximately July 2019, Correctional Officer Ioanis told inmate Fred to give him a massage and that while Fred was massaging him he told Fred to have sex with him. Allegedly Fred initially resisted but eventually complied with Ioanis’ demand for sex.

Officer Celestine is accused of entering Fred’s cell sometime in January while Fred was sleeping and performing oral sex on her.

The charges accuse Primo of repeatedly verbally abusing and threatening Fred, and on at least one occasion assaulting her.  The charges accuse her of removing the sheets, mattress and pillow from Fred, forcing her to sleep on the concrete floor, and refusing to allow Fred to leave her cell on several occasions.

The accused correctional officers have had their initial appearance at the FSM Supreme Court on March 13 and were remanded to the custody of National Police until March 16 at which time the court released them on their own recognizance.  The defendants are not allowed to go “anywhere near the Pohnpei State Jail.  Additionally, if any of the defendants, “at some point, seek to perform a traditional apology ceremony toward the alleged victim, that defendant must first seek, by motion, the court’s permission.”

The parties will have until May 21, 2020 to file pretrial motions and opposing parties will then have until May 31 to respond to a pretrial motion.

The pretrial release said that since it is expected that Chief Justice Dennis K. Yamase will preside of the the case for all matters beyond the initial appearance, hearing dates will be set by later court order.

Associate Justice Larry Wentworth presided over the preliminary hearings.

The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless they are proven to be otherwise after a fair hearing.