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1 of 3 charges in sexual assault case dismissed

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The CNMI Superior Court dismissed one of three charges filed against a 43-year-old man who allegedly sexually assaulted a minor.

Last Thursday, Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho granted the Office of the Public Defender’s request to drop one of three charges against Joseph Seman Epina.

In March 26, 2016, the Commonwealth charged Epina with sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree (count one), assault and battery (count two), and disturbing the peace (count three). On Aug. 1, 2018, Epina through assistant public defender Heather M. Zona, filed for a motion to have count two dismissed.

Assistant attorney general Teri Tenorio did not oppose the motion, despite disagreeing with the legal basis behind it.

Epina is still charged with sexual assault of a minor in the first degree and disturbing the peace.

According to Zona’s argument, Epina should not be charged with assault and battery because the Office of the Attorney General lacked facts to back its allegation that Epina forcibly removed the victim’s pants and caused her bodily harm.

Zona said the OAG’s facts allege that Epina forcibly removed the victim’s shorts but there was no allegation that constituted that doing so caused the victim bodily harm of any kind and there was also no allegation that constituted that removing the victim’s shorts resulted in sexual contact.

Epina is facing charges of allegedly raping a then-12-year-old girl. Police claimed that Epina sexually assaulted the girl who was sleeping at a relative’s house last March.

Police investigation started after receiving a complaint from Division of Youth Services personnel about a student who had been sexually assaulted.

The girl told police that it was not the first time that Epina sexually assaulted her.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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