Nun admits breaking child's arm

By Edward Gay

Leva-i-Fangalupe Fono leaving the courthouse. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Leva-i-Fangalupe Fono leaving the courthouse. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A nun has admitted breaking the arm of a 9-year-old at Sunday School after the girl failed to get an action song right.

Leva-i-Fangalupe Fono - known as Sister Leva - yelled at the girl, flicked her in the head and broke the girl's arm when she twisted it behind her back.

She is seeking forgiveness from the family and plans to take part in a Restorative Justice conference with the girl and her family ahead of her sentencing in August.

Sister Leva was one of the teachers leading a group practice of an action song for upcoming celebrations at St Patrick's, Panmure, in April last year.

She had originally denied a charge of assault on a child and injuring the girl with reckless disregard when her trial at the Auckland District Court began on Monday.

But today Sister Leva pleaded guilty to two charges of assault on a child shortly after the Crown finished calling evidence against her and effectively removed the more serious charge of injuring with reckless disregard.

Judge Heemi Taumaunu told the jurors that Sister Leva had made an admission during her interview with police, soon after the assault took place.

In the recorded interview played to the court, Sister Leva was asked by police if she could have hurt the girl.

She responded: "Yes, maybe.''

Judge Taumaunu said both Sister Leva, the girl and her family would take part in a Restorative Justice conference. The outcome of the conference is likely to impact on Sister Leva's sentence.

But whatever the result, Crown prosecutor Michael Walker said he would not be asking the court to send Sister Leva to jail.

The mother of the girl told APNZ that she was happy with the result but did not want to comment further.

Sister Leva has been remanded on bail and one of her conditions forbids her to be alone with children unless she is in the company of another adult.

Asked outside court if she was sorry for what happened, Sister Leva said she would not comment.

Catholic church spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer said she could not comment on the case specifically.

She said the church has a "zero tolerance'' for violence in parishes and schools. No one from St Patrick's Church was available for comment.

- APNZ

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