DUCHESNE — A Duchesne County man is accused of strangling his wife until she passed out and abusing her three children by choking, kicking and biting them, according to charging documents.

Robert Lee Rhoades was charged in 8th District Court with six counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony; three counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child, a third-degree felony; and one count each of aggravated assault and retaliation against a victim, both third-degree felonies.

The alleged abuse came to light in late May when the children were staying with a family member who noticed bruises and contacted the state Division of Child and Family Services, detectives said. As part of the investigation, Duchesne County sheriff's detectives conducted separate interviews with Rhoades' wife and his three stepchildren.

One of the children told investigators she had been "strangled until she passed out by her stepfather," according to charging documents obtained Monday. The child said Rhoades then threw her onto a pile of rocks, causing her to hurt her head and back.

"(The child) also disclosed being kicked by Robert with his boot intentionally in the mouth and having to have stitches," the charges state, adding that the child told investigators she never told anyone about the alleged abuse "because she doesn't want to go to foster care."

The second child told investigators Rhoades also choked her before slamming her to the ground, the charges state. Detectives said the girl had bruises on her leg that were caused when Rhoades' allegedly bit the child. Rhoades broke the third child's arm and also choked her until she couldn't breathe, the charges state.

During interviews with the children, investigators said they learned that Rhoades also assaulted his wife by choking her until she lost consciousness. "The children have never told anyone about the abuse before, out of fear of Robert finding out and hurting them or their mom," the charges state.

Rhoades' wife corroborated the children's allegations, according to detectives, but told them "she never dared to say anything to Robert about the abuse" because "she feared for her safety and the safety of her children."

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Court records show Rhoades, 34, has prior convictions for aggravated assault, violation of a protective order, criminal mischief and threats against life and property.

Rhoades was booked into the Duchesne County Jail. A judge set his bail at $5,000 cash-only and scheduled a June 15 arraignment hearing.

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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