After hearing about a week’s worth of testimony, closing arguments were made in the second trial of Franklin Chargualaf Taitague Jr., a man accused of raping an underage family member at a bus stop near his family’s compound.

Jurors are now deliberating.

Christine Tenorio, the prosecuting attorney in the case, began by directing the jurors' attention to the evidence presented, which she said includes the account of a minor who alleged she was repeatedly raped.

“This started 11 or 12 years ago, so this started around 2011, 2012 when the girl estimated she was about fifth grade,” said Tenorio. “The girl indicated that when she was around that age, her first cousin, who she calls Ankie, Franklin Taitague Jr., would start taking her from the Sunday gatherings under the guise of going to the store.”

The prosecution told jurors the trips were the pretext for the alleged abuse.

“Instead of immediately going to the store Franklin Taitague Jr. would take his first cousin down to either the modular house or Franklin Sr.’s house,” Tenorio said of the victim’s testimony about where the assaults would take place.

'My big brother'

Tenorio urged the jury to remember the victim's testimony and said the abuse haunts her to this day.

“It was really difficult for her to get it out on the stand because it is a traumatic experience for her,” said Tenorio.

The prosecution alleges the girl was raped repeatedly during the regular trips.

“When they were there, she said it would happen almost the same way every time. He would tell her to take off her pants and then, in the beginning, she did try to get away or she would try to resist,” Tenorio continued.

The prosecution alleged that the rapes occurred “every Sunday” over the span of three years. Tenorio said that the victim estimated that she was abused around 150 times and was told “not to tell.”

Afraid of being shunned, the girl had testified that she was scared of Taitague and scared of what speaking out would do to the family.

“She didn’t want to break up her family because they were so close and the evidence did show they are really close. … This is a case of a loyal family. They are loyal and they are trying to protect their cousin at the expense of the girl,” said Tenorio.

“Because I took it this far, meaning I took it outside the family, now I am not a part of that family,” the girl said in her previous testimony.

She also stressed that Taitague had the opportunity to commit the alleged acts, she described how most family fiestas on the island are large gatherings where children are always running around and adults aren’t really paying too much attention to them, which Tenorio said could make it “easy to slip away from gatherings.”

Tenorio also told jurors to consider evidence that Taitague had apologized to the victim for the acts and noted the victim trusted Taitague.

“I looked at him as my big brother, and I never thought that he could do this,” Tenorio said, quoting the victim’s testimony on the stand.

Now 21 years old, the prosecution said they see no reason or motive for the victim to be lying.

“Eleven years later and she is still begging for someone to believe her,” said Tenorio.


Defense attorney, David Highsmith, contended in his closing arguments that the government failed to meet the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

“That this is a case of ‘he said, she said’ and the words are not credible,” he told jurors.

Highsmith characterized the victim's story as “impossible,” adding there’s no evidence to corroborate her allegation. He reminded the jury that no one could confirm Taitague's alleged admission of guilt.

The defense recounted that the first time the girl told her mom, she said the rape happened once. Then, at a family gathering she said it was once and then at the Guam Police Department she alleged it was 150 times, Highsmith said.

“Sometimes people exaggerate,” said Highsmith of the victim's statements and allegations.

Highsmith directed the jury to the potential frequency of the alleged assaults, noting that every time it happened, the defendant allegedly would ask the minor’s mom permission to take the girl to the store. Highsmith reiterated testimony from the victim’s mother which confirmed only five occurrences.

“One hundred-fifty times he drove off with the girl, but no one saw it?” Highsmith said to the jury. “Impossible. … One hundred-fifty times he got into the modular home or the father’s house? Joshua Taitague and the father said Ankie never asked for the key (to the homes).”

Highsmith contended the mother pressured the girl into making the allegations.

“Three times the girl denied, and then mom said she would take her to the doctor and that’s when she said something,” the defense attorney said.

The defense then brought up the rape that allegedly took place at a nearby bus stop, questioning the testimonies of the girl and her mother.

“According to (the mother's) testimony, the girl had left the party around 1 a.m.,” Highsmith recalled to jurors.

The girl testified, however, that she left “around 3 a.m. to walk home,” he said.

“How would he know where she was at that hour? She was 16 years old and weighed 145 pounds. Doesn’t scream, doesn’t call out for help,” Highsmith told jurors. “She must’ve been expecting something. Something bad at least.”

Highsmith presented an alternate theory to the jury: that the girl blamed her relative instead of admitting to another sexual encounter.

“She was probably meeting someone, … she gets caught and blames Ankie,” he argued.

The defense proposed that the girl must’ve been out with another boy, because the defendant was still at the party “having a good time” when the alleged rape at the bus stop occurred.

“Are you really going to believe all those people lied? … This is a close-knit family, but if they lied to protect him they would’ve told better stories,” said Highsmith.


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