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Jonathan Fanene, a defensive end who spent seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, has been charged with eight felonies, including assault and kidnapping, and five misdemeanors after what police described as a horrific attack on his wife and sister in his native American Samoa.
Via the Associated Press, Fanene was released on $100,000 bail and will appear in court next week.
Question of infidelity preceded attack
The alleged incident occurred on May 26, and was witnessed by the 9-year-old son of Fanene and his wife, according to police.
The wife filed the criminal complaint on May 29; she told police that her sister-in-law (Fanene’s sister) informed her that Fanene was seen with another woman during a trip to Hawaii and had a “hickey” on his neck.
When the wife told Fanene about what his sister had said, the 37-year-old “flew into a rage and proceeded to assault his sister with his hands” in the couple’s home, according to an affidavit.
The wife told police that she tried to “run for the door” but Fanene threw a chair at her, grabbed her and dragged her back into the home.
He then told his young son to grab “the bat,” but the boy brought a pipe, a broom handle and a golf club when he couldn’t find the bat.
Then, in front of his son, Fanene allegedly beat the women with the objects.
‘He beat them as hard as he can’
Until this incident, Fanene had been serving as director of the American Samoa Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs, a job he’d held since 2014.
“Based on the information I received from the Police Commission, my decision is to terminate Mr. Fanene,” American Samoa’s acting Lt. Gov Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga told the AP.
Mauga reviewed files and photos of Fanene’s wife from the investigation in making his decision.
According to the affidavit, the son told police, “He beat them as hard as he can ... My mom told him to stop, in a crying way.”
Police said Fanene’s wife suffered multiple contusions from her shoulders to ankles on one side of her body; she also had injuries to her buttocks, both upper arms and her lips.
The wife said she tried to get away from Fanene numerous times, but he would catch her and continue the assault.
“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.
At one point she got the pipe and broomstick from her husband, but she said Fanene then “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 said that at some point she blacked out momentarily and “when she opened her eyes, she heard someone gasping for air only to realize moments later it was her.”
She told police she “thought he was going to kill her right there and then.”
This was not the first time he assaulted her.
According to the affidavit, since 2009 Fanene has twice held a .357 revolver to her head, and on another occasion he stomped on her head after she found an email he sent to another woman.
Police found two shotguns in a search of the couple’s home; neither was registered with the Department of Public Safety. It is unclear whether he will face additional charges over the guns.
District court or High Court
Fanene’s defense attorney, Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei, declined comment to the AP on Thursday, but he will decide if Fanene continues with a preliminary hearing at the district court level or instead has the case heard in the High Court of American Samoa.
Fanene, listed at 6-foot-4, 292 pounds, was a seventh-round pick of the Bengals out of Utah in 2005; he played 71 games with 17 starts over the next seven seasons.
In 2012, he signed a three-year deal with the New England Patriots but was cut in training camp after the Patriots discovered a previously undisclosed injury.
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