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Court Report


District Court Judge John Ward found that the government has sufficient evidence to have the case of Ta’aga Tavale bound over to the High Court. Tavale, of Fitiuta, Manu’a is facing five criminal charges: first degree burglary, false imprisonment, trespassing, third degree assault and private peace disturbance stemming from an incident reported earlier this month.

The burglary count is a class B felony, punishable between five to fifteen years in jail, while false imprisonment is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Trespassing is a class B misdemeanor which carries a jail term of up to six months, a fine of $5,000 or both, while third degree assault and private peace disturbance are both class C misdemeanors, punishable with up to 15 days in jail, a fine of up to $300 or both.

Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop called to the stand Manu’a police officer Iakopo Apineru from Manu’a as the main witness to testify on behalf of the government. Iakopo said this matter was reported to police on November 4, 2012.

The victim told police that while she was sleeping she had been awoken during the wee hours to see the defendant standing over her.

The victim claims that she recognized the defendant because they reside in the same village. The victim told police the defendant had placed his hand over her mouth to prevent her from yelling, and was holding her down. It’s alleged the victim attempted to scratch the defendant on his face and yell for help.

The government claims the victim managed to grab her cell and was able to get away from the defendant, running to her neighbor’s residence and yelling out for help, and the neighbor let her into the house. The neighbor confirmed their aid to the victim.

The victim told police she called the Manu’a substation and no one answered, so she contacted the Central Police Station and reported the alleged attack.

Police contacted the defendant the same day of the incident, noting alcohol was on his breath. Ward found that there was probable cause to bind the matter over to the High Court for further proceedings or disposition. The defendant will enter a plea to the charges against him today.


The government has opted not to file additional charges against Sterling Fuga, who is being held on bail of $300 on charges of third degree assault (offensive touching) and public peace disturbance on allegations he touched a female court clerk who was riding the bus into work last week.

Fuga appeared in the court on Friday for a status hearing on his case when the court informed both parties about previous criminal court cases against the defendant and urged them to look into those cases so they would have knowledge about the defendant's history.

In this latest case against Fuga, it is alleged that he was touching a woman inappropriately who was heading into work on a bus. The defendant got on the same bus where it is alleged he touched the woman, and at one point offered her money.

Court filings say the victim told police she felt disgusted and scared and she wanted to get off the bus but she didn’t, in case the defendant followed her.

Court filings state the victim looked around the bus and noticed someone she knew, then she moved and sat with that person.

The government will decide next week how it will proceed in its case against Fuga.