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Child abuse defendant pleads down to assault

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 35-year-old man accused of punching a 15-year-old boy and then striking the boy with a tree branch has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Teofilo Afamasaga who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond appeared in court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.

Afamasaga was initially charged with one count of abuse of a child and one count of assault in the second degree, both class D felonies that carry 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, Afamasaga pled guilty to the felony charge of 2nd degree assault.

With his guilty plea, Afamasaga admits that on July 2, 2019 he punched a 15-year-old boy, causing injuries to his face, before he grabbed a tree branch and struck the boy’s head causing severe injuries.

The case was reported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) when the victim’s father called police for assistance, after his son ran to their house covered in blood and seeking help.

Afamasaga was apprehended and taken to TPS. Investigators say he reeked of alcohol.

During questioning, the victim said he was talking to his friend (defendant’s niece) at the defendant’s home and "he was surprised to see the defendant walking towards him with a long tree branch. The boy claims the defendant "punched and hit" him, and he "became scared" and that's when he ran home for help.

According to the victim's father, who is also defendant’s neighbor, he saw Afamasaga approaching his son. He said Afamasaga punched his son "several times" and then hit his son with the tree branch.

Sentencing is set for July 23.