Aileen M. Satoafaiga, 46, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to reduced charges of cruelty to children in the second degree, and Judge J. Wade Padgett accepted the plea deal for a seven-year probation sentence.
What concerned him most, Padgett said, was that Satoafaiga had a family member hide the victim when deputies went to the house.
In September, the Department of Family and Children Services received a report that Satoafaiga’s 4-year-old grandson had missed a number of school days and that there was an anonymous call about child abuse.
When the officers questioned Satoafaiga on Sept. 14, her answers were inconsistent, and officers found the boy stashed in the attic during a search, Assistant District Attorney Adam Land told the judge in January. Satoafaiga admitted hitting the child with a flip-flop several times, leaving small bruises on his face and chest.
It was a mistake and Satoafaiga panicked, defense attorney Travers Chance said. There has been a DFCS investigation, and custody of the boy has been transferred to another family member.
There had never been another DFCS report, Chance said. Satoafaiga had taken in the boy and his sibling because their father was in prison and their mother abandoned them, Chance said.
Padgett refused the plea deal in January and again in February. On Friday, he said he had met in his office with the attorneys since then.
Padgett refused to allow Satoafaiga to have first offender status. While on probation, she is not to have primary care of any child.