The Weber County Sheriff's Office is investigating a complaint that attorney Geoffrey Clark assaulted confessed serial rapist Jason Brett Higgins during a meeting at the jail around noon Thursday.

"We are investigating the allegation," said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Klint Anderson. "We are taking it very seriously."The sheriff's office will turn its findings over to the Weber County District Attorney's Office sometime next week, Anderson said.

Higgins reported the alleged assault to a corrections officer as he was being led back to his cell.

Higgins did not require medical attention as a result of the incident. Anderson said Higgins accuses Clark of assaulting him during a heated discussion.

Clark on Friday denied any assault took place but said Higgins became "disruptive" during a regular visit with him in the jail Thursday.

Higgins fired him, Clark said.

"He relieved me as counsel in the case and used several expletives as he did so. I exchanged expletives with him," Clark said.

Clark said there was no physical contact as the two men yelled at each other during the session in a jail visiting room and that when the verbal exchange took place, he simply walked out of the visiting room and told a deputy that Higgins should be returned to his cell.

The visiting room where the conversation took place is off a busy corridor in the jail, said a Weber County Jail corrections officer who asked not to be identified. The room has a window, but is not typically monitored by officers because of attorney-client confidentiality concerns. An officer is stationed in the hallway, however, and is readily accessible if needed, he said.

No one reported seeing an altercation between Higgins and Clark Thursday, the officer said.

Clark said Higgins is upset lately "because he's looking at spending a significant part of the rest of his life behind bars. And he thinks it's the fault of his legal counsel."

Higgins, 24, pleaded guilty last month to nine rapes between October 1996 and February 1997 that involved eight victims. Under terms of a plea bargain, his defense team is joining with the prosecution's recommendation of a 30-years-to-life prison term.

Higgins had been scheduled for sentencing Friday, but earlier this week his sentencing hearing was reset for Feb. 2.