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Man charged with assault says sister -in-law is spreading lies about him

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man from Vaitogi accused of attempting to assault his brother’s wife while she was holding her 18-month-old son was arrested last week.

Fred Taavili Jr made his initial appearance in District Court where Judge Elvis P. Patea granted a motion from the defense attorney to release Taavili Jr on his own recognizance to await his next court appearance. Ta’avili Jr is not to make any direct or indirect contact with the victim and her family.

He is charged with third degree assault, public peace disturbance, and endangering the welfare of a child, all class A misdemeanors, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

According to the government’s case, on Oct. 9th, police received a call regarding a peace disturbance in Vaitogi.

Upon arrival at the scene, two responding officers found a male - later identified as the defendant - sitting in front of his house. As investigators were speaking to Taavili Jr., a woman walked out and told police she was the one who reported the incident.

According to the woman, the wife of Taavili Jr’s brother, the confrontation started when she approached Taavili Jr about stealing items from her home, including money and clothes. She said she spoke to Taavili Jr about how disrespectful his actions were, and that's when Taavili Jr allegedly threw a metal object at her, while she was holding her 18month-old son.

The metal object missed the victim’s head and hit the concrete wall. That’s when Ta’avili Jr walked over to where his sister-in-law was standing and pushed her towards the house door, causing the victim to hit the back of her head on the side of the door - all while holding her toddler.

According to the victim, her brother-in-law was heavily intoxicated and was cussing at her. She claims that Ta’avili Jr walked over and tried to punch her, but she ran into her house and locked the door.

She told police she was afraid and concerned for her safety and that of her young children because she knows her brother-in-law is on drugs and if they don’t take him, he will come later and beat her - or someone at their home - because he knows she called the police on him.

The victim’s husband was not home when the alleged incident took place. He’s in Manu’a  for work.

According to the government, Taavili Jr was sober when police approached him; but for the safety of the woman and the baby, he was arrested and detained to await his appearance in District Court.

When interviewed by police, Ta’avili Jr explained that he assaulted his brother’s wife because she was spreading lies in the village and in the church, telling people that he broke into her home and took off with personal items.

Ta’avili Jr told police that he loves his brother and his family; however, he was upset because people were mocking him and accusing him of going to his brother’s house late at night while his brother is away.

Ta’avili Jr admitted that he assaulted his sister in law by pushing her towards the door while she was holding her son, and cussing at her, out of anger.