Mother arrested for alleged neglect of 3-year-old after videos go viral
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 39-year-old woman from Pago Pago was arrested this past weekend and accused of allegedly failing to provide necessary supervision for her 3-year-old daughter whom she left under a breadfruit tree by the side of the road, by herself.
Senara Feala made her initial appearance in District Court on Monday, Oct 19, 2020. She is represented by Public Defender Michael White while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Robert Morrison III.
Feala is charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of child neglect, both class A misdemeanors, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Samoa News has chosen to publish the defendant’s name as there are two videos online clearly identifying her, along with her daughter — that went viral.
The case against Feala was first seen due to two recorded videos that were uploaded, by a resident of Pago Pago last Saturday afternoon and went viral on Facebook.
The first video, which lasted 6 minutes shows Feala and her young daughter sitting outside a store in Pago Pago talking to a female. A few minutes later, Feala left the store and walked towards a breadfruit tree not far from the store.
The second video shows Feala walking away from her daughter, who stayed under the breadfruit tree, towards an abandoned house located about 200 feet away. The video also showed Feala entering the door of an abandoned house.
The video shows that while Feala was inside the abandoned house, several young men gathered under the breadfruit tree with the defendant’s young daughter. And it looked like they were trying to figure out why this little girl is standing alone and crying under the breadfruit tree. The young men were seen trying to calm the young girl down.
The video also shows the young men leaving the area where the little girl is, as a group of young children made their way to the little girl and escorted her to a nearby house.
A few minutes later, Feala is seen in the video leaving the abandoned house and making her way back to the store where she met up with her young daughter.
In one of the videos, the person who is recording Feala walking away from the store with her daughter, is shouting out to her about why she is going into that abandoned house, why does she knock on its door?
Feala’s reply is difficult to hear, however the recorder clearly yells back to Feala, in Samoan, to stop lying that she (the recorder) knows the abandoned house is used to sell drugs. She also is heard saying police should be called on “the woman walking away with her daughter” for neglecting her daughter.
(Samoa News was told by reliable sources that the abandoned house in the village is suspected as the center of illegal activities, including the selling of illegal drugs.)
Two employees of the Department of Human and Social Services (DHSS) contacted the Central Police Station (CPS) for assistance regarding the incident. They informed the responding officers that Feala lives in Pago Pago with two young daughters, but also has two sons who live in another home, in Pago Pago as well.
The DHSS workers told the police that they needed to remove all four young children from the houses and take them to the shelter, based on a video that was posted on social media regarding the defendant allegedly neglecting her child (daughter) in front of a store in Pago Pago.
As a result, the defendant and her four children were transported to the CPS, where the Social Service workers explained to Feala that the children are going to be taken from her based on a video that has gone viral on social media — where she allegedly leaves one of her young daughter by herself, under a breadfruit tree.
The defendant told the DHSS workers that there was an adult in front of the store who she left her daughter with, for only a few minutes. However, the defendant was advised by the SS workers that she could come to court to hear the court’s ruling on what is going to happen to her children.
Feala's four children were then taken to a shelter in Tafuna under the care of DHSS.
The defendant refused to make a statement after she was informed that she would be charged for failing to provide care for her young child. According to the government, Feala left her young daughter for about 15-20 minutes by herself under the breadfruit tree.
(Samoa News should point out it’s unknown if the videos will be used as evidence in the case, or if they continue to be posted.)