Utah DT dismissed after alleged attack on wife

By Chip Patterson | Staff Writer

Niasi Leota (pictured right) has been dismissed from the Utah team after allegedly attacking his wife in front of their children. (USATSI)
Niasi Leota, at right, has been dismissed from the Utah team after allegedly attacking his wife. (USATSI)

Defensive tackle Niasi Leota has been dismissed from the Utah football team after being arrested last week on charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and other charges for allegedly attacking his wife in front of their 2-year-old.

The alleged incident occurred Feb. 17 at the couple's Salt Lake apartment. Leota was charged with three felonies and four misdemeanors last week. The defensive tackle was suspended, but officially dismissed over the weekend.

"We will do everything we can to help Niasi and his family get through this situation, but obviously we do not tolerate this kind of behavior," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement released by the school.

Leota appeared in 10 games last season -- his first for the Utes, recording six tackles. The West Valley City, Utah, native transferred after two seasons of junior college ball at Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) College.

Details of the alleged incident were reported by The Deseret News.

Leota became angry and punched his wife in the head and face, then told her to go into the bathroom to clean up the blood, charges filed in 3rd District Court state.

While she was in the bathroom, the 6-foot 4-inch, 278-pound man hit her in the head with a curling iron, then wrapped the iron's cords around his hands and tried to strangle her, the charging documents state. He then allegedly ripped a towel bar from the wall, hit her in the head with it and tried to stab her in the throat with the broken end.

Leota also "attempted to fill the bathtub with water to electrocute the victim with the curling iron," a Salt Lake County Jail report states.

The woman told police that each time she tried to run out the door, Leota would grab her by the hair and drag her back inside. Prosecutors say the couple's 2-year-old child was present during the assault.

According to the Salt Lake County booking information, the final list of charges includes four felonies: aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault, and domestic violence in the presence of a child. Leota was also charged with unlawful detention, threats against life or property, operating a vehicle without or no proof of insurance, and a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence in the presence of a child.

Leota is being held at the Salt Lake County Jail on $250,000 bail and scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

For more college football news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCFB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, college football newsletter, and get the Eye On College Football Podcast from iTunes. You can follow Chip Patterson on Twitter here: @Chip_Patterson.

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