Former Snow College athlete accused of raping, attempting to kill Utah woman
EPHRAIM, Utah — An Orem man was charged Monday with sexually assaulting and attempting to kill his girlfriend a few years ago while attending Snow College.
Peni Latuselu, 23, is charged in 6th District Court with attempted murder and two counts of rape, first-degree felonies; kidnapping, a second-degree felony; two counts of aggravated assault resulting in serious injury and unlawful use of a financial card, third-degree felonies.
Police say Latuselu was in a relationship with a woman between May 2018 and March 2020 while in Ephraim.
“At first this relationship was good, but later turned violent and toxic,” according to charging documents.
In the fall of 2019, the woman attempted to end the relationship due to “physical and emotional abuse.” But Latuselu told her “they just needed to have sex to ‘heal’ the relationship” and then sexually assaulted the woman, the charges state. Prosecutors also noted in court documents that Latuselu was playing college football at the time and was “significantly larger” than the woman.
Latuselu is listed on the Snow College football team’s 2019 roster as being 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 310 pounds.
In December 2019, Latuselu attacked the woman “in a fit of rage” and “placed his hands on her neck and choked her, telling (her) that he was going to kill her,” according to the charges.
On March 13, 2020, police say the woman went to Latuselu’s apartment in Ephraim to collect her belongings and was again assaulted while Latuselu demanded sex. The woman says Latuselu again put his hands around her neck and told her he was going to kill her, the charges allege. The woman told police she tried to open a window and yell for help when Latuselu blocked the doors, then allegedly threw her to the ground and stood over her while stating, “Shut up or I will kill you!”
“When she would not stop screaming, (Latuselu) placed a pillow over the victim’s face causing her not to be able to breathe,” according to the charges. “The victim thought she was going to die.” Latuselu later sent the woman messages “admitting that he had been trying to murder her,” the court documents allege.
Detectives say Latuselu also made more than $1,500 worth of purchases on the woman’s financial cards without her permission.
Prosecutors say the woman “has tried to move on” and cut off all ties with Latuselu, but he “continues to reach out through electronic means and contact the victim with threatening statements. These incidents are under investigation by law enforcement in Utah County,” the charges say.
If you have experienced sexual violence, you can access help and resources by calling Utah’s 24-hour Sexual Violence Helpline at 1-888-421-1100. You can also call the Rape Recovery Center Crisis Line at 801-467-7273 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for free, confidential counseling.
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