UPDATE: She says she was beaten; Boyfriend says she was abuser
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An 18-year-old male has been arrested and charged on the allegation that he assaulted his 18-year-old girlfriend and threatened to kill her and her family.
John Iele made his initial appearance before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea last week. Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey, while Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson is representing the defendant.
Iele is charged with false imprisonment and public peace disturbance, both misdemeanors. Bail is set at $1,000 and a pretrial conference is next month.
The government claims that on the afternoon of Sept. 9, 2019, the 18-year-old victim and her male cousin walked in Tafuna Substation to file a complaint against Iele for assault.
During the interview with police, the victim was whispering and appeared incapable of speaking loudly. Investigators say they noticed she was having trouble turning her head sideways when she was asked to speak up.
Scratch marks were observed on the victim’s right shoulder and her back was dirty, as if she’d been lying in dirt.
The victim told investigators that her back and shirt got dirty after Iele dragged her into an old abandoned house to prevent her from being seen and was helped by her male cousin, who came to her aid after she called him for help.
The victim said she was dragged into the house, where Iele then threw her on the floor and positioned himself on top of her while covering her mouth with his left hand and holding her down with his right hand.
The victim said Iele was trying to hold her down so her male cousin wouldn’t be able to see them. During the interview, police noticed swelling on the victim’s left ear, which she said was where Iele slapped her.
According to the victim, she’d been staying at Iele’s house for 4 months. She moved in around mid-May and the abuse started a month later in June.
She said Iele would hold her down aggressively and leave bruises on her body; and whenever she attempted to leave, Iele would threaten to kill her and her family. She said she tried to defend herself by punching him and telling him to go away but he would choke her, pull her hair, slap her, and verbally abuse her.
Last Monday, Sept. 9th, the victim said Iele tried to choke her and although his brother stopped him, Iele did it anyway, twice. The victim said she had enough and wanted to go home, so she tried to call her male cousin using her phone inside the bathroom while Iele was gone. Afterwards, she went in front of the house to wait for him; and that’s when she saw Iele running towards her, while a car was following him.
Iele then dragged her inside the nearby abandoned house, held her down, covered her mouth, and instructed her not to yell or cry or he’ll keep beating her, and if her cousin doesn’t leave, he will beat and kill him too.
The victim said when her male cousin finally found them, Iele took off and threatened to kill her family.
Police spoke to the victim’s male cousin who said that when he received the phone call from the victim, he heard her crying as she asked to be picked up from Kokoland. On his way there — with another relative in the car — he called the victim and noticed a guy wearing a white lavalava sitting on a rock wall next to the road. He said when he asked the victim about this guy, she said that’s Iele.
When asked by police, Iele denied the allegation that he threatened to kill the victim and her family. He also denied assaulting the victim, saying it was the victim who assaulted him.
According to Iele, in the 4 mouths they have been living together, he and the victim have had loud arguments. He said it got physical and the victim would tell him that she wanted to die and then attempted to kill herself.
He told police he held her down to prevent her from doing so; and this happened many times, and all he does is hold her down, nothing more.
According to Iele, he and the victim do everything together; and one time at his workplace, she slapped, punched, and elbowed him to the point where he bled and had a swollen eye. She also choked him until he was unconscious.
Iele claims the victim molested him and he only choked her one time when she tried to kill him. As for him preventing her from going home, Iele said he never did such a thing.
Iele’s brother told police that Iele told him and their father that the victim needed a place to stay because her stepmom kicked her out, as she didn’t like the idea of her dating Samoan men. Iele’s brother said he can’t recall when it started, but the couple would argue most nights. He said he told his brother that he’s not to lay a hand on the victim, and every time the two would argue in his presence, he would remind his brother about the rule.
He said every time he stepped in, Iele always assured him that he wasn’t hitting her. According to Iele’s brother, he could remember four times seeing Iele with some sort of bruise or redness like hand marks on his arm. He told police that the victim is capable of hurting Iele.