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A family dispute becomes a case of alleged sexual abuse, and a case of ‘aisa’

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A family quarrel which evolved into an alleged public peace disturbance in Mapusaga between an uncle and his niece’s husband last month has landed the two men in police custody.

While both are being charged for PPD, separately, each also have serious additional charges against them — one for alleged illegal drug possession, and the other for alleged sexual abuse.

The men are Pania Mataese and his wife’s uncle, Filituna Faavale.

Mataese is charged with two counts of 1st degree sexual abuse and two counts of sodomy, all felonies.

Faavale is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and one count of stealing, both felonies, along with one count of 3rd degree assault, one count of endangering of the welfare of a child and one count of private peace disturbance, all misdemeanors.

Mataese’s bail is set at $25,000, while Faavale’s bail is $10,000.


The government alleges that on Feb. 2nd, 2021 about 7p.m, the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) received a phone call from a man requesting police assistance at his home in Mapusaga. The man, who was later identified as Pania Mataese, one of the two defendants in this case, told police that his uncle came to his house and assaulted him while he was holding his two-year-old daughter.

Several police officers responded to the call and met up with a male individual who was standing on the side of the road in Mapusaga. The man identified himself to police as the one who requested police assistance — Mataese.

Mataese showed police his injuries and after officers observed blood coming from his left eye and nose, they immediately called EMS for assistance.

When questioned about what happened, Mataese told police that the uncle beat him up inside the house while he was holding his daughter. According to Mataese, he came home after work around 4:30p.m. and drank his beer at the back of the house while his wife and children were doing the cooking inside the house.

Around 6:30p.m, his wife called him for dinner and they were eating dinner at the table while listening to music. There were times during dinner that he stood up and danced around the house, which made his wife and four young children laugh. He stated to police that he always did that in front of his family whenever he drank and it’s his way of showing his love and appreciation to his wife for the work she and their children do while he’s away from home, working.

However, the uncle (Faavale) was annoyed and yelled at him from outside the house to stop what he was doing and go to sleep before he does something bad to him.

Mataese told police that Faavale is his wife’s uncle, who lives with his wife and three daughters at another house next to Mataese’s house.

Mataese did not mind Faavale’s harassment but continued to entertain his wife and children by dancing in the middle of the house. Faavale called Mataese a second time and instructed him (Mataese) to turn off his music and go to sleep. This got Mataese mad and he started kicking stuff around in the house and making unreasonable noise causing alarm to his neighbor.

Mataese yelled out to Faavale that he has no business trying to control his family nor is he the Sa’o of the family. After a few moments, Mataese went back to the dinner table and continued eating his dinner.

Out of nowhere, while Mataese was eating, he was shocked when Faavale assaulted him, causing Mataese to fall to the floor. While lying on the floor, Faavale kicked Mataese in the back several times before he (Faavale) grabbed a broom handle and struck Mataese on the head.

Mataese was taken to the LBJ Medical Hospital for treatment after which he was interviewed by officers at his house.

Faavale was later transported to TPS for questioning. While Faavale was being transported to the TPS, officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from Faavale’s breath.

When they arrived at the TPS, Faavale refused to enter the police station. He told officers that what he did to his niece’s husband was right because the man (Mataese) sexually abused his 16-year-old daughter a few months ago and that incident did not sit well with him.

Faavale tried to walk away from police, but he was stopped by two other police officers. However, he resisted arrest and continued walking away. He also told police that he wanted to file a criminal complaint against his niece’s husband for sexually abusing his minor daughter. 

Trying to stop Faavale, one officer grabbed on to Faavale’s pants and felt something hard in his rear pocket. He was immediately patted down for any weapons, but instead officers discovered a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance in his left rear pocket. The search continued to the front pants pocket where officers found a small stamp size baggie containing green leafy substance.

Faavale was immediately arrested and escorted inside the TPS conference room for questioning.

After being Mirandized, Faavale stated to officers that he understood his rights and wished to make a statement about what happened between him and his niece’s husband.

According to Faavale, he loves his niece and her family very much and he treats her, her husband and children like his own children. But ever since the alleged incident happened between Mataese and his 16-year-old daughter in the beginning of last year, where Mataese allegedly entered his house late at night and sexually abused his daughter while she was sleeping inside the living room, everything changed between him and Mataese and the only thing he wanted was revenge.

Faavale admitted assaulting Mataese, as described by Mataese, and when asked about the illegal drugs found in his possession, Faavale admitted that the illegal drugs belonged to him and he bought it from another man to use for his own personal use.

After the interview, Faavale told investigators that he wanted to file a complaint against Mataese for the alleged sexual abuse against his daughter. Police interviewed Faavale’s daughter, who confirmed the alleged incident.

Mataese was brought to the TPS for questioning regarding the alleged sexual abuse complaint and investigators also interviewed the victim regarding the incident.


According to the victim, it was on the night of Jan. 29, 2020 while she was sleeping on the couch in the living room when she felt someone touching her inappropriately. She woke up and saw her brother-in-law (Mataese) standing beside the couch touching her.

The victim asked Mataese what he was doing and Mataese whispered in her ear not to make any noise because he didn’t want her sisters to know that he was inside the house. According to the victim, she didn’t want to yell because Mataese would get into trouble if her father knew about what he did, so she silently told him to get out of the house. Mataese complied and left the house.

Two days after the first incident, Mataese again entered the victim’s house late at night and again allegedly touched her inappropriately while the victim was sleeping on the couch in the living room. This time, according to the victim’s statement to investigators, Mataese went too far.

The victim said she woke up when she felt pain and saw Mataese sitting beside the couch. She further noticed that her clothes were all removed and she was lying naked on the couch. She then yelled at Mataese to get out of the house.

The next morning, she informed her mother about what happened and her parents called a family meeting with Mataese and his wife — where Mataese apologized about what had happened and promised that he would not do it again.

When questioned by investigators, Mataese admitted to the allegation and immediately apologized for his actions. He told investigators that the victim invited him to come into the house.