Former Bengal faces assault charges in American Samoa

By FILI SAGAPOLUTELE 07 June 2019, 12:00AM

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) — Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Jonathan Fanene faces charges he used a pipe, golf club and broom handle to assault his wife and his sister over allegations he had an extramarital affair while on a trip to Hawaii, according to court documents filed this week.

Fanene has been charged in the district court of American Samoa with eight felonies, including kidnapping and assault, and five misdemeanors. He has been released on $100,000 bail and will appear in court next week.

Defense lawyer Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei, who declined to comment to The Associated Press on Thursday, will decide then if Fanene continues with a preliminary hearing at the district court level or opts to have the case heard in the High Court of American Samoa.

Fanene played for the University of Utah and was drafted by the Bengals in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft. He played seven seasons for the Bengals and started 10 games in 2009. He played for New England in 2012, but he was released after being injured in training camp.

He has been serving as director of the American Samoa Department of Youth and Women's Affairs since 2014, but has lost his job.

"Based on the information I received from the Police Commission, my decision is to terminate Mr. Fanene," American Samoa's acting governor, Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, told the AP late Wednesday.

An acting director has already been named, and Mauga expected Fanene's termination letter to be mailed Thursday or Friday.

Mauga said he made the decision after reviewing the files and photos of Fanene's wife from the investigation.

The incident is alleged to have occurred May 26 and been witnessed by the couple's 9-year-old son, who told police his father told him to grab "the bat," according to court documents. When the boy couldn't find one, he brought a pipe, golf club and broom handle.

The son then saw his father "use these objects to assault" his mother and aunt, the affidavit says.

"He beat them as hard as he can. ... My mom told him to stop, in a crying way," the son is quoted in the affidavit, telling a police investigator.

Police said the wife suffered multiple contusions covering an area from her shoulders to ankles on one side of her body. She also sustained injuries to her buttocks, the upper portion of both arms and her lips, court documents say.

His wife filed a criminal complaint against Fanene on May 29. She allegedly told police that she was informed by her sister-in-law that Fanene was seen in Hawaii with another woman and that Fanene had a "hickey" on his neck.

The wife told Fanene about what his sister had said, and Fanene "flew into a rage and proceed to assault his sister with his hands," inside the couple home, the affidavit alleges.

The wife told police that she tried to "run for the door" but Fanene "threw a chair at her, he then grabbed her and dragged her (back) into the house," the affidavit further alleges, noting that Fanene "then instructed their 9 year old son to grab "the bat", but the (son) brought back a wooden stick."

Fanene then "used these objects to assault her and her sister-in-law," according to the wife's statement to police cited in the affidavit.

The wife said she tried numerous times to get away from her husband, but he would catch her and beat her up.

"At one point during the course of the physical onslaught, she got up on the couch to distance herself from him, but he assaulted her with the pipe," the affidavit says. The affidavit adds that the wife was finally able to grab and remove the pipe and stick from her husband, but "he grabbed a commercial grade extension cord, wound it around his hand, and proceed to whip her and her sister-in-law with it."

The wife told police that Fanene "would physically assault her and his sister; stop the assault — as though he was 'taking a break' — and would lecture them, only to resume the physical onslaught again," the affidavit says.

The wife also told police that at one time Fanene "hit her so hard that she 'blacked-out' momentarily and when opened her eyes, she heard someone gasping for air only to realize moments later it was her."

She told police that she "thought he was going to kill her right there and then".

The affidavit outlined other alleged incidents of assaults dating back to 2009, including Fanene twice holding a .357 revolver to his wife's head and once stomping on her head after she found an email he sent to another woman.

When searching the couple's home, police found two shotguns, neither of which were registered with the Department of Public Safety. It was unclear if he will face charges over the shotguns.

By FILI SAGAPOLUTELE 07 June 2019, 12:00AM
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