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Utah man punches teen in the face during church, charges say

Utah man punches teen in the face during church, charges say

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SYRACUSE — A Layton man accused of punching a teenage boy in the face during church has been charged with felony child abuse.

Pio Pauulu, 40, was charged Thursday in 2nd District Court with child abuse, a third-degree felony, and child abuse, a class A misdemeanor.

On May 6, police say a 15-year-old boy was attending church at an LDS meetinghouse, 1625 S. 1125 West, when Pauulu called him over to where he was sitting.

He told the boy, "'Don't do that to my daughter again.' The boy told the defendant that he did not know what the defendant was talking about. The boy said the man then punched him in the jaw," according to charging documents.

The teen left the chapel and walked outside the church. Pauulu followed him "and grabbed him by the neck, strangling him," the charges state.

One witness told police that Pauulu was "holding the boy by the neck. He stated that he heard the defendant threaten to kill the boy," according to the charges.

Pauulu claimed he saw the boy make a sexual gesture toward his daughter.

"He said that he followed the boy out of the chapel, grabbed him by his tie and told the boy not to do that to his daughters. The defendant denied hitting the boy in the chapel or strangling him," the charges say.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.

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