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Man convicted of child abuse after punching and assaulting young teenager

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 39-year-old man accused of punching a 13-year-old boy and then striking him with a piece of wood has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Sene Aleki, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond appeared before the court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.

Aleki was initially charged with abuse of a child, a class D felony that carries a jail term of up to 5 years, a fine of $5,000 or both; and third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court yesterday morning, Aleki pled guilty to the felony charge of abuse of a child.

With his guilty plea, Aleki admits that on Feb. 12, 2020 he punched a 13-year-old boy, who is his neighbor, causing injuries to his body.

The case was reported to the DPS Tafuna substation after the victim, ran to a nearby house “seeking help” claiming the man from their neighborhood (the defendant) had “hit him with a hard wood.”

Aleki was apprehended and taken to the Tafuna Police substation. Cops say he reeked of alcohol.

During questioning, the victim said he was talking to his aunty at home and "he was surprised to see the defendant walking towards him with a hard wood and started assaulting him.” The boy claims the man "punched and hit" him, and he "became scared" and that's when he ran to his aunt's house for help.

According to the victim's aunty —  she saw Aleki approaching the victim, while holding a piece of wood in his right hand. She said Aleki punched the victim "several times" and then "hit the victim’s head and back with the hard wood.”

Sentencing is set for Mar. 21st.