IN CASE OF MAN ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING MINOR
Court urged to suppress statements made to DOC officers
The defense counsel for a man accused of sexually abusing a minor has requested the Superior Court to suppress statements made to Department of Corrections officers in this case.
The defense counsel for Frankie Rettanlug, assistant public defender Vina Seelam, has filed a motion asking the Superior Court to suppress statements made by her client after he was interviewed by the Department of Corrections on the morning of May 30, 2022.
Seelma argues that the statements made in this interview was a direct product of an improper promise by the police that her client would be released from jail if he gave a statement.
“Rettanlug did not voluntarily waive his rights because he only did so believing that he could only be released if he spoke with the detectives. Therefore, the statement he made was the product of improper coercion by police. Because Mr. Rettanlug’s statement was involuntarily made, it must be suppressed,” the lawyer said.
The lawyer also stated that based on what the detective conducting the interview told the defendant, Rettanlug believed that he would only be released from jail if he gave them a statement.
“Rettanlug signed the ‘Your Constitutional Rights’ form when asked to do so by the detective. He thought that he could only be released from jail if he signed the form. Mr. Rettanlug did not understand that if he asked for an attorney, the interview would stop and he would not have to answer the detective’s questions without an attorney present,” Seelam said.
Seelam also argued that although Rettanlug’s primary language is Satawalese, the interview was conducted in English without the assistance of an interpreter.
“Mr. Rettanlug completed schooling through the 12th grade, and his primary language throughout his schooling was Satawalese,” Seelam said.
Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has scheduled a hearing on this motion for Nov. 30, 2022, at 10 am.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, Rettanlug and his co-defendant, Tim Onopey, allegedly sexually molested a 17-year-old girl on May 29, 2022.
Onopey, 25, and Rettanlug, 27, were each charged with sexual assault in the first degree.
On May 29, 2022, at around 8:17pm, police officers responded to two reported sexual assault incidents at the Guma Sakman in Susupe.
Police arrested Rettanlug and Onopey for allegedly committing the crime and transported both to the Department of Corrections for booking.
Rettanlug remained in custody of Corrections overnight. (Kimberly B. Esmores)