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Dispute with Methodist Church prompts man to spend 2 nights at TCF

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Aliitama Sotoa was arrested by a court marshal last Saturday morning, Feb. 6th, spending two nights at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), before appearing before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia Monday morning on a bench warrant issued for failure to show for a Status Hearing in the matter between the Methodist Church of American Samoa (MCAS) and himself.

When the case was called Monday morning, private attorney Charles Alailima appeared on behalf of the MCAS, while Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson represented Sotoa.

Anderson informed the court that he’s only represented Sotoa for the bench warrant, and entered a not guilty plea for Sotoa and asked the court to quash the bench warrant and release his client on his own recognizance pending his next hearing, which is scheduled for next week.

“Mr. Sotoa, you pushed the court to this point,” the court told the defendant, who appeared in court with handcuffs.

“Your failure to appear in court for your OSC ended up with a bench warrant issued against you. And if you fail to appear in court on your next hearing, its gonna be another bench warrant. We don’t wanna do that,” the court said before it adjourned.

Sotoa called out to the court and said, “Your honor, can I say something.” There was no response from the court.

Samoa News understands that the hearing between the defendant and the church stemmed from an incident where the defendant refused to leave the church house he’s occupying.