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Man charged with attempted rape denies involvement in the incident

American Samoa District Court building
… before cops even tell him why he was being questioned

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man was arrested by police pursuant to a warrant on the allegation that he attempted to rape a 16-year-old girl at the her residence in the Tafuna area. During his arrest, cops discovered two glass pipes containing white crystalline substance and a small stamp sized baggie containing a green leafy substance.

The man, i made his initial appearance in District Court last month.

According to the government’s case, it was on Dec. 11, 2022 when the Leone Police Substation (LPS) received a distress phone call from a woman stating that her 16-year-old cousin was allegedly raped by a man named “TAX” and she requested police assistance.

TAX was later identified as Lafoga Tautasi, the defendant in this matter.

Several police officers responded to the call and met up with the reporter waiting for police to arrive in front of her residence. The reporter briefed officers about what happened and pointed towards the side of the house where Tautasi entered the house.

The reporter, a 30-year-old female, along with the victim were both transported to the police station for further investigation before officers proceeded to the defendant’s house in an effort to locate him. The defendant was not at his residence when police approached the house. Neighbors told police that Tautasi has just left the house with his vehicle, a black pickup truck.

When questioned by police, the reporter (victim’s cousin) stated that she had just got off from work and was on her way home, when she saw her 16-year-old cousin (victim) crying in front of her house. She approached her and asked what happened and her cousin told her about the incident and what Tautasi had done to her.

The cousin immediately contacted police and informed them about the incident.

According to the victim, she was sleeping and she felt someone trying to pull her pants down. She immediately woke up and saw Tautasi (defendant) sitting on her bed. The victim asked the defendant what he was doing in her room but the defendant did not say anything.

The victim told Tautasi to get out of the house before she called police but Tautasi refused. He told the victim that he wanted to spend some time with her while she was alone at the house.

According to the victim’s statement to investigators, Tautasi allegedly inappropriate touched her. She tried her best to push him away from but he was too strong for her. Tautasi pulled her down, he then used his right hand to hold her down while her sexually abused her with his other hand.

Tautasi attempted to rape her by jumping on top of her but according to the victim, she quickly grabbed a flashlight that was behind her head and struck the defendant’s hands and that was when she escaped and ran into the bathroom, where she broke down and cried.

Tautasi knocked on the bathroom door and begged to the victim to come outside and not to tell to anybody. The victim didn’t open the door but continued to stay inside the bathroom. Tautasi then left the house.

A few minutes later, the victim saw her cousin (reporter) who had just gotten off from work, so she explained to her cousin what happened to her.

The government alleges that the defendant tried to shut the victim up and forcefully touched her inappropriately — leaving a mark on the area.

 Officers arrived at the defendant’s residence and observed a female individual in the defendant’s house. She was later identified as the defendant’s sister-in-law.

The defendant’s sister-in-law informed officers that Tautasi was not in the house. He left with the family vehicle to go to Vaitogi to visit his children.

Two hours later, a black pickup truck matching the description of the vehicle the defendant was driving was seen parked in front of a store in Iliili.

Officers approached the vehicle and noticed that nobody was inside the vehicle. As officers were about to enter the store, they observed a male individual wearing a white t-shirt exit the store and make his way to the parking lot.

Officers approached the male individual and asked for his name. The male  replied that his name is Lafoga Tautasi. Officers then informed him that they were looking for him and if he can come with them to the TPS to discuss a matter regarding an alleged attempted rape incident.

Tautasi agreed and was very co-operative with the officer.

Before Tautasi was transported to the TPS for further investigation, he was patted down for weapons or any illegal drugs.

During the body search, officers discovered two small stamp sized baggies containing white crystalline substances inside his pants pocket.

Tautasi agreed to a search of his vehicle. During the inventory search, officers, discovered a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance under the driver’s seat, along with a small stamp sized baggie containing a green leafy substance under the passenger’s seat.

After he was Mirandized, Tautasi made a statement about the alleged rape incident without police telling him about the reported incident. He stated that the victim is like a daughter and he did not do anything bad to her.

He told officers that he was at the victim’s residence to watch over her because her mom was not there. He said every time he visited the victim’s residence the mom was not there and he always sleeps there to watch over her (victim).

On the above-mentioned date, the defendant said he saw a taxi approaching the victim’s residence and that’s when the victim chased him away. He then told the victim that her mom was right about her and told her, “You’re shameless.”

Officers observed the defendant was holding his hand as if it was broken and asked the defendant how he injured his hand. The defendant said he fell down from the roof of his house.

Officers repeated the question — asking the defendant if it was from him falling from the roof or from the flashlight that the victim used to strike him. He replied, slowly, that it was from the fall.

While interviewing the defendant, he was asked if he was under the influence of alcohol and he confessed that he had been drinking since the night before until then. He verbally stated that he had had a 4 pack of beer. The defendant had a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath and body.

When questioned about the drugs allegedly discovered in his possession and inside his vehicle, the defendant said the drugs did not belong to him. He found them outside of the victim’s house on his way back to his house. He then picked up the small pouch containing all the stuff and put it inside his pocket.

Before he went into the store to buy his cigarettes, he opened the black pouch — removed the small baggie containing meth and put it inside his pocket. He also pulled out another baggie containing marijuana and hid it under his seat.

 He was later transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) where he was booked and confined to await the next sitting of the court.

The white crystalline substance was tested and it was positive result for meth, while the green leafy substance tested positive result for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The government has filed two separate criminal cases against the defendant.

In the first case, Tautasi is charged with one count of 1st degree burglary, one count of attempted rape and one count of 1st degree sexual abuse, all felonies.

Bail is set for $20,000 for this case.

In the second case, he is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies.

Bail is set at $10,000 for this matter.