Man convicted of assaulting his wife now arrested for abusing his niece
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted of assaulting his wife and sentenced by the High Court to 5 years probation is now in custody after being arrested last week and accused of physically abusing his 4-year-old niece by slapping her in the face and kicking her in the back.
The man, Lino Tapu made his initial appearance in District Court last month. He is charged with a single count of abuse of a child involving domestic violence, a class D felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Bail is set at $5,000.
On Jan. 10, 2022 at about 5:36 p.m, the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) received a phone call from a woman reporting her brother (defendant) allegedly assaulted her 4-year-old daughter. Several police officers responded to the call and met with the reporter in front of her residence in Fogagogo.
The woman told officers that her brother (defendant) was inside the house. The defendant walked out of the house and officers immediately apprehended him and placed in a police unit. He was later transported him to the TPS for further investigation.
Officers observed an abrasion and bruises on the left facial area of the 4-year old victim. Both the victim and her mother were also transported to the TPS for questioning. EMS was contacted regarding the victim’s injuries. The victim sustained red marks on the left facial area below the ear, and an abrasion on the left side of her cheek.
The victim’s mother, along with other family members were interviewed by investigators regarding the incident.
According to the victim’s mother, she arrived at her work place and about ten minutes later her phone rang. It was her older daughter saying that she has to come home to take her daughter (the victim) to the hospital because uncle Lino (defendant) slapped and kicked her (victim) in the face and back causing injuries.
The victim’s mother arrived home and saw her daughter (victim) crying and she observed swollen and red marks on her daughter’s facial area, and that’s when she contacted police. She further stated to investigators that her brother (defendant) abuses her kids often and she had warned him several times.
Investigators also interviewed the victim’s sister regarding this matter in the presence of her mother. She told investigators that she witnessed the defendant slap her little sister (victim) three times in the face and also kick her sister in the face making her sister cry. She was scared and that’s when she called her mother to take her sister to the hospital. She further stated to police that when she called her mother, her uncle (defendant) yelled at her and instructed her to turn off the phone.
Tapu was Mirandized upon arrival at the TPS and he waived his rights and written and verbal statements were obtained.
The defendant explained his side of the incident, acknowledging that he slapped his niece two times on the right cheek and one time on the left cheek and also kicked his niece in the face and in her back while his other niece (the victim’s sister) was watching.
The defendant stated to investigators that he thinks he over reacted and as a result, he disciplined his niece while he was angry. He also admits to police that this is not the first time he has disciplined his sister’s children. He said he felt sorry for his actions and apologized for his mistake.
The defendant was booked and later transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) where he was detained awaiting the next sitting of court.