Police: Utah rugby player hit woman
September 18, 2005
A rugby player in town for Ruggerfest was arrested Saturday for allegedly assaulting a woman on a nightclub dance floor.Michael Palefau, 24, of West Jordan, Utah, was arrested around 1 a.m. Police say he walloped a young woman in the head at the Lava Room.According to Aspen police Sgt. Steve Smith, Palefau was dancing when he bumped into the woman, who reportedly turned and “shoved him out of her dance space.”Palefau stumbled into another dancer, Smith said, grew angry and “backhanded the young woman.” She was not seriously hurt but did have a bruise on her temple. Smith noted that Palefau is 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, while the victim was about 5 feet tall and “probably didn’t weigh much more than 100 pounds.”The bar staff called police after Palefau, who was held by the bouncer for a short time, got free and left, Smith said. He was found a short time later near the Ute City Bar and Grill.Palefau was charged with assault and battery. He paid a bond of $200 and was released. He is to appear in municipal court on Sept. 21.Ruggerfest was once a more raucous affair in which police regularly made multiple arrests for fighting and other infractions, Smith said. But the tournament’s governing body has instituted rules discouraging wild behavior. He said tournament rules threaten clubs with expulsion from future Ruggerfest play if the police arrest or even contact their players.