Panuelo's economic consultant arrested over sex trafficking charges
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Federated States of Micronesia’s government today announced the suspension of President David Panuelo's economic consultant Robert Solomon, who was arrested in Pohnpei last week over multiple charges of sex trafficking.
“Mr.Solomon is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” a press release from the FSM government said. “However, the national government’s executive branch, in its respect of the gravity of the charges and allegations, has immediately and indefinitely suspended.”
According to Kaselehlie Press, Solomon was arrested in his home in Dolonier village, along with his alleged conspirator, Carter Edwin, over allegations that they forced three teenage girls into prostitution.
The two were charged at the Pohnpei Supreme Court on Nov. 1, the Kaselehlie Press reported.
They were charged with solicitation, sexual abuse, human trafficking, prostitution and kidnapping, among others.
Kaselehlie Press reported that police found a 17-year-old girl hiding in a closet when they were executing the search warrant.
“I have full faith and confidence in the Pohnpei State government to conduct its work fairly and appropriately, and I equally have full trust and confidence in the judicial branches at both the national and state levels to fulfill their duties to the highest degree of honor in the search for truth and the delivery of justice,” Panuelo said.
“The first main idea I want to make clear is that the children of our country cannot be exploited by any person or organization. The second main idea I want to make clear is that the government, which comprises of people, is imperfect,” the president said.
He urged FSM citizens to assist government investigators “in gathering information so that we can take the right action for our country.”
Panuelo also urged sex abuse victims to come forward. “There is never shame in being a victim of abuse, but there is always shame in abusive behavior itself,” he said.
“Speaking up takes courage, but it is a brave and important act that all men and women, and all boys and girls, should feel confident to take because it is the right thing to do," he added.
During the first Anti-Human Trafficking Conference in July 2019, Panuelo said, “if persons come to the FSM to exploit our youth, then they have come to the wrong country.”
In September 2019, he created the Division of Anti-Human Trafficking under the Department of Justice.
"No one should ever feel fear, and no one should ever be harmed, when they reside on or visit our shores, least of all our children," Panuelo said.