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Court Report



A man who allegedly fondled a five-year-old girl has been arrested and criminally charged. He is being held on bail of $50,000. To protect the victim's identity, Samoa News is withholding the defendant’s name from publication. The man, who lives at the victim’s residence, was at home with the girl when the alleged incident occurred.


The defendant is charged with child molestation, a felony as well as a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child.


According to the government’s case, on November 28, 2013 it was reported to police that the defendant had allegedly assaulted sexually the five-year-old girl. Assigned to this case was Police Officer Lawrence Sagapolutele.


Court filings say that the victim’s mother, upon return from doing laundry, saw the defendant get up quickly from where he was sitting and hastily walk into the kitchen. Victim’s mother said she asked her daughter several times whether the defendant had done anything inappropriate to her, and at first the victim said no.


The mother further told the victim not to be afraid to speak up and the victim eventually told her mother what had allegedly happened.


According to the government’s case the victim said the defendant had allegedly touched her inappropriately. The mother checked her daughter’s private parts to find that it was bleeding. The young girl told police the defendant allegedly touched her inappropriately about four times for about two minutes.


The victim was taken to the hospital for a checkup and she was accompanied by her mother and a Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworker. Police spoke to the defendant, where it is alleged he admitted penetrating the victim’s private parts with his finger. Court filings say that on November 28, 20113 he was cooking and he was baby-sitting the girl as her mother was out doing laundry.


“Defendant said the victim was sitting in the living room by herself and when he was checking on her and he felt aroused by the victim laying there,” say court filings. The defendant further told police that he first touched the victim on October 2013 before White Sunday and he would touch her inappropriately once a week during that month. He further told police that he would wait until he was alone with the victim then he would insert his fingers into her private parts and these sex acts were done in the kitchen or the bedroom. 




A former police officer, John Tialavea has entered into a plea agreement with the government in connection with a land dispute that occurred last year in Aoa. Tialavea was initially charged with first degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon, which were both felonies, however in a plea agreement with the government the defendant pled guilty to discharge of a firearm which was amended from the second count while the remaining charge was dismissed.


The discharging count is a class A misdemeanor which is punishable with up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both. Samoa News understands that Tialavea is currently on probation with the District Court on a Public Peace Disturbance matter from Amouli last year over a land dispute.


According to the plea agreement, the defendant admits that on May 12, 2012 he knowingly and unlawfully fired his shotgun within 30 yards of his house to scare the family involved off a piece of land. Defendant admits that his conduct on that date was without legal justification or excuse.


According to the government’s case, police officers were informed by the woman who had contacted police that there is an ongoing land dispute between her family and the defendant. Court filings say the woman and her son were working on said land, when Tialavea allegedly shot at them to scare them away.


“Tialavea shot several gunshots, which she heard hitting the coconuts and banana trees. She estimated she heard 3-4 (gun) shots fired by Tialavea,” say court files. It's alleged that Tialavea was about 40-feet away from the boy and his mother.


Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for the defendant this Friday. In June 2009, Tialavea, who was then a police officer, was charged for beating a Pago Pago man with his flashlight in front of a Pago nightclub, and for that assault he was sentenced to one year in prison.  




Fred Maloata and Vesi Simi — who have been arrested and charged on allegations they vandalized road equipment belonging to McConnell Dowell which had been parked overnight in Leone — have denied the charges against them. They were arraigned in the High Court before Chief Justice Michael Kruse yesterday morning where the defendants entered pleas of not guilty to the charges, through their attorney Assistant Public Defender Mike White.


Simi and Maloata are held on bail of $10,000 each.


According to the government’s case it was October 27, 2013 when it was reported to police by McConnell Dowell that three of their excavator machines, which were parked in Leone, had been vandalized.


According to the government’s case, police interviewed the security at the store across the place where the machines had been parked, who said he saw Simi and Maloata at the bus stop near the area and he only learned that the machines were damaged the next day.


Police questioned the pair who admitted that they had vandalized the machines. Court filings say that total damages amounted to $3,420.


Pre-trial conference in this case has been scheduled for next month.