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Man charged for assaulting young boy in a store

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  A man facing charges for allegedly assaulting an 8-year-old boy has been released on his own recognizance. Ulisese Vaofusi is charged with public peace disturbance, third degree assault, and endangering the welfare of a child.

Vaofusi made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning, where he entered a 'not guilty' plea to all three charges against him. Defense attorney Assistant Public Defender Anna Whiles had asked to release her client on his own recognizance; but prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell argued to set bail, saying the charges have to do with the assault of a minor.

According to the government's case, police got a call from a business owner reporting that the defendant was choking a kid inside her Vailoa store. The caller claimed that Vaofusi had also slammed the kid towards a display shelf.

The court affidavit notes that when the caller tried to intervene, Vaofusi did not stop, saying he wanted to "kill the kid." Vaofusi also allegedly threatened the caller, saying he wanted to "kill her too."

The witness told police that she was "scared" because Vaofusi "might do something worse."

Police officers who responded to the call were able to interview the minor victim, in the presence of his mother. The boy told police the same thing the caller had told them. He said Vaofusi was calling him names before choking him and slamming him against a store shelf.

The criminal complaint notes that no alcohol was involved.

Conditions of Vaofusi's release include being law abiding, and not leaving or attempting to leave the territory without the court's permission. He is also to make no direct or indirect contact with the victim, his parents, his family members, or any of the government's witnesses.

A pretrial conference is set for Mar. 27.