To the editor:
Everyone loves Aggie football, as it is the hottest ticket in town. While most players are great citizens, it seems as though the bad apples are protected.
In October 2017, two then current and one former USU players, violently attacked an individual at a Halloween party held at the Castle Manor in Hyde Park.
6’3” 300 lb. NFL lineman Ricky Ali’ifua, who was working the event as security for event organizers, Viko, CJ and Dane, reached out as if to shake the hand of the the 5’8” 180 lb. victim, only to sucker punch the victim in the face, knocking him out and to the ground, while knocking out at least four teeth and severely and permanently injuring the much smaller victim.
Two other USU football players, Ali’ifua’s younger brother, Demytrick, and Aaron Wade, began attacking two of the victim’s friends. This was not a high school brawl, but a premeditated gang-style attack, orchestrated by Ricky, who had summoned the other two assailants. A video of the attack clearly shows the severity.
The assault was broken up and the assailants threatened to finish the attack in the parking lot where it would not be broken up. The victims fled in fear of their lives.
North Logan Police Department conducted the investigation, and the three suspects were ultimately charged with three class B misdemeanors, a slap on the wrist comparable to possession of one ounce of marijuana.
Interestingly, a report about the case provided to the Herald Journal in October 2018 by North Park Police Department, had the names of everyone involved redacted and blacked out, making it impossible to determine each persons role in the conflict.
In late summer 2018, the first hearing was held at the Hyde Park City Justice court. Ricky, who had just signed a nearly $400,000 guaranteed contract with the Seattle Seahawks, claimed he was indigent and was provided a defense attorney.
Several hearings were held during the 2018 fall football season, and Demytrick and Aaron Wade were escorted to each hearing by a member of the USU coaching staff. Their legal team was successful in holding off trial until after the college and NFL seasons.
Wade accepted a plea deal for an even lesser charge of disorderly conduct, along with a minimal sentence of a few hours of community service.
Demytrick was convicted in June, 2019 of class B misdemeanor rioting and assault, while Ricky was later convicted on two class B misdemeanor counts of assault.
Disturbingly, they were charged and convicted of class B misdemeanors, although many officials, including the judge, prosecuting attorney, Hyde Park police chief and Cache County attorney, felt the case should have been charged as Felony aggravated assault.
Nearly two years later, Ricky is still the face of the Aggies, with his image emblazoned on the side of the football equipment semi trailer, while Demytrick remains on the team with a scholarship as a reward.
It seems as though someone is trying to protect the Utah State football program vs protecting the victim. Criminals should be punished according to the severity of their crimes rather than rewarded for their athletic ability.
Richard L. Sorensen