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Teacher denies charges of inappropriate touching

reporters@samoanews.com

A Manumalo Baptist School teacher made his initial appearance in the District Court on allegations of inappropriately touching a female student.

The science teacher, Dave Tupua is denying the charges of false imprisonment and third degree assault for offensive touching which have been made against him.

The false imprisonment charge carries a jail term of up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000 or both, while the assault charges are punishable with up to 15 days in jail or a fine of $300 or both. Private Attorney Fiti Sunia is representing the defendant.

Tupua appeared in court after being served with a criminal summons last week.

According to the government’s case, the 13-year old victim, who was a student at Manumalo Baptist School told police that during her lunch break she went into the school’s science lab and put her backpack down. The victim said she was approached by the teacher who told her “come here sweets”. It’s alleged the victim walked to the teacher and when the victim got closer the defendant put his arm around her, slightly below her waist and pulled her towards him.

The government claims the defendant made small talk with the victim while he was still holding onto her which prevented her from leaving. It’s alleged the defendant asked the victim why she was chewing gum, he told her he knew she didn’t smoke and knew that she brushed her teeth.

The affidavit says the defendant asked the victim for the second time to “come here” and he allegedly pulled the victim closer to him and kissed her on the cheek. The victim told police that she could feel the defendant’s saliva on her face. It’s alleged then the victim pulled away and spit her gum out and the defendant placed his hands on her buttocks and patted her buttocks.

Victim told police that a similar incident happened with the defendant back in December 2011 before the Christmas break. According to the government’s case the victim was eating in her classroom, which was not permitted, and when the defendant asked the victim to approach him, he grabbed the victim below her waist and pulled her towards him.

According to the government’s case, the victim tried to pull away but the defendant drew her closer to him forcefully. It’s alleged when the victim’s face got closer to the defendant’s face, the victim held up a science book between their faces and the defendant eventually let the victim go.

Tupua’s pre-trial conference has been scheduled for March 30, 2012.

Chairman of the Board for Manumalo Baptist School, Papali’i Lauli’i Alofa told Samoa News the teacher who is being accused was suspended for six weeks immediately after the alleged incident surfaced.

Papali’i said the science teacher is now back in class and teaching his courses, while the school awaits the outcome of the charges against the teacher. The Manumalo chairman said there were a lot of parents who were not happy the school had placed a dedicated and trustworthy teacher on suspension and after reviewing all the circumstances the school administration made the decision to bring Tupua back into the classroom.

Samoa News understands the victim no longer attends Manumalo, she was pulled out by her parents.



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