Prep football: Bingham High defensive star, facing charges, sits out game vs. Kearns
Bingham High defensive star Viliseni Fauonuku, who is facing felony robbery charges stemming from an incident last spring, sat out Friday's home game against Kearns.
Two sources close to the team told The Salt Lake Tribune that Fauonuku, 17, was serving the first of a two-game suspension because of the charges, first reported by The Tribune Thursday night.
Bingham Principal Tom Hicks refused to confirm the player's status, citing the student's right to privacy. Miners' coach Dave Peck didn't return several calls seeking comment.
According to court records, Fauonuku, then 16, and another man entered a party in West Jordan last April and robbed two of the five teenage males present. Witnesses told West Jordan police that Fauonuku cocked a pellet gun, which they believed to be a real weapon, and demanded their wallets.
Fauonuku has been charged as an adult.
The all-state nose tackle, who has orally committed to play for the University of Utah next year, played in Bingham's first four games this season. The Miners, ranked No. 3 nationally by USA Today, are 5-0 after beating Kearns on Friday.
Peck said Thursday that he was allowing Fauonuku to play until the judicial process played itself out. Faounuku is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Nov. 2 at 3rd District Court in West Jordan.
Earlier Friday, Hicks backed Peck's original decision.
"I have complete faith in how my coach deals with things," Hicks said. "I hired him, and we've been together over a decade."
Hicks refused to say whether he knew of Fauonuku's arrest last spring for aggravated robbery.
Hicks declined to comment specifically about the charges Fauonuku faces, again citing student privacy, but said Peck handled everything according to the school's standard and to the football team's code of ethics.
The team's code says that a player who commits an assault, theft or robbery in the offseason will earn a two-game suspension. Infractions of the code during the season earn a four-game suspension. Multiple violations in one year earn a player dismissal from the team.
Peck said this week that if Fauonuku is convicted or pleads guilty to the felony charges, he will then be suspended for two games.
Hicks stressed that the charges Fauonuku faces stem from an alleged event outside school and during the football offseason, weren't a "district issue" and therefore didn't need to be passed along to the office of the Jordan School District.
"There is a difference in offseason and on-season, and there is a difference in jurisdiction," Hicks said.
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