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PLEA DEAL OFFERED TEACHER ACCUSED OF INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING OF FEMALE STUDENT

The Attorney General’s office has made a plea deal with a Manumalo teacher accused of inappropriately touching a female student. The science teacher, Dave Tupua, who denies the charges of false imprisonment and two charges of third degree assault for offensive touching, appeared in the District Court.

Prosecuting Assistant Attorney General Blake Hanley has declined to disclose the details of the offer that was presented to the defendant in this matter.

Tupua appeared for his pre-trial conference but his lawyer Fiti Sunia asked for a two week continuance, unopposed by Hanley, while he goes through the discovery from the government and the plea deal offer with his client.

District Court Judge John Ward granted the defense request and re-scheduled the matter for May 17, 2012.

The criminal charge of false imprisonment, the teacher faces, carries a jail term of up to one year in jail and or a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

The assault charges are misdemeanors and each punishable up to 15 days in jail and or a fine of $300 or both.

According to the government’s case, the 13 year old victim 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 and the defendant approached her.

It is alleged the teacher told her “come here sweets”.  According to the government’s case the victim walked towards the teacher and when the victim got closer the defendant put his arm around, slightly below her waist and allegedly pulled her towards him.

Court filings go on to say 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, telling her he knew she didn’t smoke and knew that she brushed her teeth and why was she chewing gum.

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 allegedly kissed her on the cheek.  The victim told police that she could feel the defendant’s saliva on her face.  It's also alleged that 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. The victim tried to pull away but the defendant drew her closer to him forcefully, according to the government’s case.

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.

In an earlier interview with Chairman of the Board for Manumalo Baptist School Papali’i Lauli’i Alofa, the chairman stated that the accused was suspended for a period of six weeks immediately after the alleged incident surfaced, however the teacher is back to work and teaching courses, while the school awaits the outcome of the charges against the teacher.

ARSONIST SENTENCING CONTINUED

Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond was forced to reschedule the sentencing of a man who burned his wife’s clothes last December and pled guilty to misdemeanor arson in the High Court, for May 9, 2012 because the pre-sentence report was not ready.

Samoa News cannot name the defendant to protect the identity of the victim.

The defendant in his 40’s from Pago Pago was initially charged with arson which is a felony and public peace disturbance a misdemeanor. However, under a plea deal with the government, the defendant pleaded guilty to the amended charge of arson misdemeanor which is a lesser charge, while the government moved to dismiss the public peace disturbance charge.

During his plea agreement hearing the defendant admitted in court that he burned his wife’s clothes out of anger. “I came home and my wife had left to live with her family so I just burned the clothes along with the wooden box. “The clothes I burned were the clothes my wife no longer used, they were stored away to be given away”, he said. The defendant is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.



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