Alleged beating of a Nuuuli couple by church members results in arrests
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Seven members of the Nuuuli Church of Christ, including senior preachers, were arrested Sunday night on the allegation that they assaulted a couple from the church.
The defendants spent the night at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) before they made their initial appearances before District Court Judge Pro Temp, Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde yesterday morning.
The defendants are: Viliamu Ioane; Tautua and his wife Taua Suapusi; Luao Soli Jr; Neru Soli; Minute Soli; Leua Vili, a.k.a. Julie; and Kalepo Tineiafi. During yesterday’s court proceedings, Viliamu Ioane was released after the government opted not to file any charges against him.
The remaining seven defendants however, are each charged with third degree assault and public peace disturbance, both misdemeanors.
Due to their illegal immigration statuses: Taua Suapusi was remanded back to the TCF without bail, to await her pretrial conference on Oct. 22nd; and Kalepo Tineiafi will appear in court this morning for his Status Hearing.
According to a report from Immigration, Suapusi has an expired immigration ID while Immigration has no file for Tineiafi.
The government claims that several officers responded to a call from one of the victims, reporting a public peace disturbance at their church in Nu’uuli around 7:19p.m Sunday night.
Eyewitnesses told police that a couple — also members of the church — were beaten by church members. According to witnesses, the woman (victim #1) was first beaten in front of the church by members of the Soli family, while her husband (victim #2) was allegedly assaulted inside the church by other members of the Soli family, despite an effort by the church pastor to intervene and stop it.
The government claims that Soli Jr and victim #2 got into a verbal argument at Lions Park around 6p.m, after a church service, then Soli Jr walked away and headed back to the church compound.
Soli Jr told his family that victim #1 and others assaulted him at Lions Park during their meeting. But church members who were at the meeting told police that nothing happened, nobody ever laid a hand on Soli Jr.
When Soli Jr’s family got the news about him being beaten at Lions Park by victim #1 and #2, several members of the family walked to the front of the church, looking for both victims.
Victim #1 told police that while she was sitting in front of the church, she heard pounding on her truck and it was Kalepo and another person. It was then, according to victim #1’s statement to police, that 3 females: Julie, Minute Soli, and Taua Suapusi, approached her and questioned her regarding her husband’s whereabouts.
According to victim #1, while the three females assaulted her, she heard Tineafi yelling out, “your husband is going to get it.”
After victim #1 was assaulted, the church pastor called a special meeting for all the men in the church, in an effort to calm things down. The pastor wanted to let the men deal with the problem and make peace amongst the families in the church, who were involved in the incident.
The meeting was held inside the church.
Victim #2 told police he walked to the pastor’s house to speak to him, but was told that the pastor was at the church, so he walked to the church to meet the pastor and other church members, including Soli Jr.
Victim #2 said when he entered the church, Soli Jr walked towards him and challenged him to a fist fight. That’s when Tautua Suapusi blindsided him, punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground. Other church members jumped in and started assaulting victim #2.
Church members told police that when victim #2 fell down, after Sataua hit him, others including Neru Soli joined the assault by punching and kicking victim #2.
When asked about how everything started, church members told police that a meeting was held between victim #2, Soli Jr, and another senior member of the church, to discuss Soli Jr’s letter to the church’s headquarters, asking for a vehicle to help him carry out his work within the church. The meeting was held in the absence of the congregation.
This didn’t sit well with Soli Jr., and that’s why the incident erupted, after Soli Jr allegedly went to the church and lied to his family about being beaten by victim #2.