Siosateki Tonga Faletau: Auckland pastor sentenced after sexually assaulting girls named

Siosateki Tonga Faletau targeted seven victims over 20 years, forcing his tongue into one of his victims’ mouth and grabbing another’s breasts while she slept despite her protest.

Siosateki Tonga Faletau

As recently as 2020, Faletau put his hand down on one of his victims’ top when they were alone in a car. He didn’t stop when she told him to, and went on to touch her leg and upper thighs.

The Auckland based Tongan church pastor has been identified this morning after months of a name suppression order, a New Zealand Herald report said.

Faletau admitted indecently assaulting seven young girls from 2001 to 2020.

Some of his victims attended churches where he was pastor or priest.

One of the girls he repeatedly assaulted was 10 years old. He was in his late 30s at the time and in one instance, at her grandmother’s house in Ōtara, he forced his tongue into her mouth.

Another girl, who worked in the office of his business, was paid by Faletau shoving cash down her bra regularly for three years, starting when she was 16.

On September 2, Judge John McDonald sentenced Faletau to two years and three months’ imprisonment and declined his application for permanent name suppression.

At the sentencing, victims spoke of the damage Faletau had wrought.

“I still have nightmares about what he did to me,” said the woman, who was 10 when the pastor touched her.

“I inadvertently gave him name suppression for 20 years, and what did he do in that time?” she asked. “He abused more young girls.”

Faletau appealed the judge’s sentence and decision not to permanently suppress his name.

The appeal was heard by Justice Simon Moore at the High Court at Auckland on November 29.

Justice Moore dismissed both the appeals against the sentence and against the refusal to grant permanent name suppression.

His lawyer, Paul Borich KC, told the Herald he intends to file a second appeal in relation to the sentence with the Court of Appeal. Faletau’s interim name suppression expired at 5pm today.

In his judgment, released to the Herald, Justice Moore said Judge McDonald’s sentence was not manifestly excessive.

Faletau comes from a family of extremely high-standing in Tonga, court documents released to the Herald show, who hold a noble title and have a large estate.

Among his relatives are a former Minister of Police and another who served as Tonga’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. His brother was the police commissioner.

This background, as cited by a cultural report writer, was cited as a mitigating factor in Faletau’s arguments for a lower sentence.

“Tongan culture highly values good character and a good name. So much so that it is common for reputation to flow intergenerationally,” the judgment said.

“The report writer therefore expresses the view that fakama [shame] associated with Mr Faletau’s offending would plague Mr Faletau and his family. The effect would be severe given the family’s high standing in Tongan society.”

Justice Moore said shame was not a mitigating factor.

“While it is most unfortunate that Mr Faletau’s family will share the shame of Mr Faletau’s offending, I do not consider a discount to his sentence an appropriate avenue to recognise that.”

Justice Moore said the 25 per cent discount given for Faletau’s guilty plea, plus 10 per cent for remorse and willingness to participate in restorative justice, and 5 per cent for a $35,000 reparation payment offered was appropriate.

His arguments for permanent suppression included the effect on his children, who are successful professionals, and on his family business whose many customers remained largely unaware of Faletau’s offending.

Justice Moore found neither met the threshold for “extreme hardship” required for permanent name suppression and were normal consequences of a conviction for serious offending.

“It is understandable that customers of Mr Faletau’s business may no longer wish to engage his services,” Justice Moore said.

Justice Moore ordered Faletau to pay the victims the $35,000 reparation.

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