Hank Taitano found guilty


A Superior Court jury reached a unanimous verdict that finds Hank Kenney Peredo Taitano, a 36-year-old tour bus driver guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl, who became pregnant and delivered a baby last March.

After deliberating for about five hours, the six jurors came out with a guilty verdict as to the charge of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree.

The victim and her mother burst into tears as they hugged each other after hearing the verdict. The girl’s family members and some relatives and staff of the Office of the Attorney General were also in tears.

Taitano bowed his head when the verdict was announced.

Sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree carries a 30-year maximum penalty and eight years of mandatory prison term.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho set the sentencing for Oct. 28, 2015 at 9am.

The Office of the Adult Probation was ordered to submit a pre-sentence investigation report by Oct. 2, 2015.

Assistant attorneys general Shannon Foley and Barbara Cepeda, counsel for the government, called seven witnesses, including expert witness, during the trial.

Assistant public defender Matthew Meyer, counsel for Taitano, did not call any witness.

The trial began on Monday. The jurors started deliberating for an hour on Wednesday late afternoon. They resumed their deliberations yesterday morning.

Asked for comment about the verdict, Office of the Attorney General spokesperson Carla Torres said they would like to thank the victim for her strength and courage in standing up against her attacker.

“We could not have done it without her,” Torres said.

Assistant public defender Meyer immediately left the courtroom after the hearing.

In December 2014, police arrested Taitano.

The girl’s parents learned about the rape when they noticed that the girl’s stomach was getting bigger.

During a checkup on Nov. 28, 2014, the doctor told the mother and her husband that the girl at that time was four months pregnant.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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