Alleged serial child molester arrested with bail set at $20,000
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Police arrested a 58-year-old man last month, for the alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl. The government claims that the defendant, Ameko Faavela, forcibly kept the victim inside his house for over an hour while he sexually abused her.
During his arrest, officers discovered drugs in his possession.
Faavela, who has a previous conviction for a similar offense made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance; to wit, methamphetamine (meth), a felony, punishable by imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years, a fine of not more than $20,000, or both; along with two courts of first degree sexual abuse; one count of attempted rape and one count of false imprisonment, all felonies; along with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.
Bond is set at $20,000 and a preliminary examination is this week. The court has denied a defense motion to reduce bond to $5,000, with prosecution strongly opposed to the reduction, saying that Faavela was convicted by the court ten yeas ago for having a sexual relationship with a minor while he was still married.
If he is able to post bond, among other conditions, Faavela is not to make any direct or indirect contact with the victim, and he is not to leave or attempt to leave the territory while his case is pending.
(As an alleged repeat offender, Samoa News has decided to publish the defendant’s name, but not that of the victim.)
The matter was reported to authorities by the victim’s aunt on May 24th, 2021. Police who responded spoke to the caller, and the alleged victim and her mother.
According to the government, Faavela is a friend of the victim’s parents, and they have known each other for over 10 years, and he was treated as one of their own family, including Faavela staying at the family’s home on several occasions.
Faavela was not home when police arrived in the area in response to the call. A woman that lives next door to Faavela told investigators that he took off when he saw police units heading towards the victim’s home. She tried to stop him and asked what happened, but Faavela continued to run around to the side of his house and disappeared.
Investigators transported the victim, her mother and aunt to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for further investigation, while other police officers patrolled the area looking for Faavela.
The victim’s mother and aunty were placed in separate rooms for questioning. The victim was interviewed in the presence of her mother.
According to the victim’s statement of the incident, Faavela came to their house and asked for her father. She told Faavela her father was in Apia and he would be there for two weeks. That’s when Faavela told the victim that there was food from a wedding at his house that he needs to bring over to their house (victim’s house), but he wanted someone to help him bring it over. The victim told Faavela that she would give him a hand.
When she got to Faavela’s house, he told the victim to wait outside while he got the plate of food for her. As Faavela walked to his kitchen, he suddenly stumbled and fell on the cement floor, hitting his head on the side of a chair.
According to the victim, the moment she saw Faavela fall down, she screamed and quickly ran inside the house to help him, thinking that Faavela was unconscious because he was not moving at all.
When Faavela regained consciousness he tried to stand up. The victim helped him to get up and she told Faavela to lean on her shoulder as she tried to walk him to his bed in his room to rest. However, when they got into the defendant’s room, he asked her to stay with him for a few moments and watch a movie while he tries to get over his headache.
The victim told investigators that she didn’t think anything of it because Faavela is like a father to her and her siblings.
After a while, Faavela was able to walk properly and told the victim to wait at the house while he goes to the store to get sodas for everyone. Faavela then left for the store and when he returned, he had two packs of cigarettes, sodas, 4 cans of beer, as well as snacks.
He told the victim to come to the living room to watch TV while he sets up everything before they go to take the food and sodas to her house.
The victim told investigators that she shocked at what happened next — while she was sitting on the couch watching TV, Faavela came in and sat on the couch next her and allegedly touched her chest inappropriate.
He then asked her to lock the front door, because he didn’t want the neighborhood kids to come by begging for snacks. The victim said she did as she was told.
Afterwards, according to the victim, she returned to the couch and that’s when Faavela gave her $20 and snacks. He then asked her to move closer to him, which made her uncomfortable and she told Faavela that she was leaving, because she was not comfortable with his actions.
According to the government, that’s when Faavela grabbed the victim by the arm and started touching and rubbing her inappropriately — over her clothing. He then tried to remove her clothes in an attempt to have sex with her, but the victim fought back and pushed Faavela away from her, telling him to stop being stupid before she calls the police.
The victim said she tried to escape because she could smell alcohol but Faavela asked her to calm down because nothing bad was going to happen to her and everything would be fine. However, the victim said she knew something was weird with Faavela, by the way he was acting.
She tried to get out of the house but Faavela stopped her saying that she could not leave the house until he said so. According to the victim, she spent over an hour sitting in Faavela’s house. She wanted to go home but Faavela stopped her.
The victim told police she pushed Faavela away, causing him to fall off the couch, but he stood up and continue touching her in a sexual manner. The victim pushed Faavela away from her a third time, causing him to fall off the couch again and this time he was unable to stand because he was drunk.
That’s when the victim stood up and walked out of Faavela’s house and went straight to her house.
In the affidavit, police noted that the victim was confident throughout the interview process. But when she mentioned the inappropriate touching, she began to tear up.
When questioned by police, the victim’s mother said she was aware of the situation after her daughter told her everything and she waited for her elder sister (victim’s aunt) to come home so that she could explain the incident to her. The victim’s mother further stated to investigators that they’re living on her sister’s husband’s land and she wanted to get advice from her sister before she reported the matter to the police.
According to the mother, this is not the first incident in her family involving Faavela. She said there was an incident that occurred last year prior to this incident involving him and her niece, who is now 15 years old — but it was not reported because both parties agreed to settle it. According to the victim’s mother, her niece was living with her family during the time of the allege incident. The victim is now living with her other aunt.
When asked about the alleged first incident, the victim’s mother didn’t specify the date but said it happened at night. She said she heard her niece screaming from the back of the house for help. And when she went to check, she saw Faavela holding her niece’s left hand, trying to pull her into his vehicle. She said Faavela only released her niece’s hand when she yelled at him to stop.
Police continued to look for Faavela in the area but he was nowhere to be found, however, last month, he was seen by the victim’s mother riding on a aiga bus heading to the Fagatogo market.
The victim’s mother contacted police and Faavela was finally arrested.
When questioned by police, Faavela said he didn’t see the 16-year-old victim at his home all that day. He said the only people who came over to his house were the neighborhood kids who stopped by to borrow movies.
He denied any wrongdoing to the investigators — telling them that he would never do such thing to this couple and their children, because he treated them as his own family and blood.
Before Faavela was taken into the TPS for further investigation, officers searched him for weapons or illegal drugs. During the body searched, officer discovered a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance in his pocket.
When questioned about the glass pipe, Faavela told officers that glass pipe was not his. He found it in the bus he was riding.
The white crystalline substance found inside the glass pipe was tested and the result was positive for meth.
Faavela was then transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) where he was booked and confined.