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Man held on $20,000 bail in alleged sexual assault incident

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On Feb 17, 2023 at 10p.m, a woman walked into the Tafuna Police Substation and alleged that her daughter had been sexually assaulted by a male individual identified as Lafaele Aunoa. Four days later, on Feb 21, 2023, officers interviewed the victim at the police station. 

According to the victim, she met the suspect at the baseball field, where both the suspect and victim were assistant coaches to the Dodgerette baseball team. On Feb 13, 2023, the victim stated that the suspect had asked her out, and not wanting to hurt his feelings, she agreed to a date with the suspect. 

On that same night, the suspect added her on Instagram and she accepted his follow request, to which the victim then asked the suspect for his age but the suspect kept dodging the question. The victim says she then told the suspect that she was 17 and he told her he was 20 years old. 

The victim said she immediately blocked him because she realized he was too old for her.

Then on Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023, during a baseball game at the baseball field in Tafuna, the suspect signaled the victim to meet in the dugout where the bathroom stalls are, and the victim said that she saw that as an opportunity to break things off between her and the suspect. 

The victim said that she was uncomfortable because she realized that the suspect is 20 and she herself was only 17, and in addition mentioned she did not have any feelings for the suspect.

The victim states that she headed towards the dugout and looked around, and that’s when the suspect grabbed her arm and dragged her into the first bathroom stall, and then allegedly pinned her against the wall, pressed his hand over her mouth and told her to “shut up”. 

The suspect then allegedly attempted to force the victim to perform an inappropriate sexual act on him, to which the victim said, “no”. The suspect then grabbed her head, pulled her up and slammed her head against the wall. 

As he allegedly attempted to molest her, the victim states she froze and was looking up at the ceiling, and she then felt the suspect step backwards, leaving enough space for her to immediately exit the bathroom stall. The victim ran out of the bathroom stall while the suspect was “occupied” with pleasuring himself, facing away from the victim. 

As the victim exited the dugout bathroom area, she saw her mother’s car and quickly ran and jumped into the car. As she was sitting inside the car, she saw the suspect come out of the dugout bathroom looking for her.

On Feb 17, 2023, at 11:28 p.m, the suspect was brought in and Mirandized. He then told police he wanted to make a statement about the incident that happened on Feb. 15th.

The suspect confirmed what the victim had related to the police about the  incident on Feb 15, 2023 at 4:47p.m. However, he described the incident as “hanging out” — but admits that he asked the victim to perform an inappropriate sexual act on him and that she said no.

This is where the statements diverge with the suspect stating that he let the victim “perform an act” on him for a short time. The suspect then alleged he let the victim up and started kissing her again, while continuing to touch the victim inappropriately. The suspect mentions that while he kissing the victim, she told him that she was only 17. 

Aunoa had his initial court appearance on Friday, June 2, 2023 where he is being charged with 4 criminal counts — one count of felony sexual abuse in the first degree, one felony count of sodomy, one count of felonious restraint and a misdemeanor crime of endangering the welfare of a child.

Bail is set at $20,000.