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Utah man charged with brutally torturing girlfriend in front of child

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Utah man charged with brutally torturing girlfriend in front of child

By Pat Reavy, | Posted - Jul. 11, 2019 at 12:47 p.m.

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CLINTON — A Clinton man accused of tying up his girlfriend in a trailer and torturing her for several hours is due back in court Friday to face criminal charges.

Robert Jay Vanvliet, 36 — who is already a registered sex offender — is charged in 2nd District Court with aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, plus aggravated assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, third-degree felonies.

Late in the evening on June 3, police say Vanvliet and his live-in girlfriend, with whom he has children, got into an argument.

Court documents say Vanvliet grabbed the woman's feet, pulled her off a chair and dragged her inside a closet where he "placed a belt around her neck, and told her if she lied to him that he would make her pass out."

Vanvliet then "replaced the belt with a neck tie, and tightened the tie around her neck multiple times" until she almost passed out, the charges state. He also allegedly kicked her in an effort to get her to answer his questions.

This continued until about 5 a.m. on June 4, at which point, Vanvliet took the woman to a camper trailer parked outside, according to the charges. He also allegedly took their 2-year-old child with them.

After tying the woman's wrists and ankles with both rope and zip ties, "Robert tied a string around her neck and attached it to the ceiling. The rope around her neck would tighten if she attempted to move. Robert then placed a cellophane wrap inside the victim's mouth and tied something around her neck to hold the cellophane wrap in place. Robert used a lighter and burned the victim's knuckle until it blistered," a search warrant affidavit states.

He then "began punching her in the shoulder, arm and sternum. The victim stated that the defendant also struck her in the jaw and slapped her face. This type of behavior continued for several hours, and the child was in the trailer the entire time," according to the charges.

After approximately three hours of torture, Vanvliet gave the woman a pair of nail clippers so she could cut herself free and then left the house, the charges state.

The woman called Clinton police who responded and took the woman to the hospital.

A preliminary hearing and a bail hearing were both scheduled for Friday.

Vanvliet is also on the Utah Sex Offender and Kidnapping Registry. In 2015, he was convicted of dealing in harmful materials to a minor and amended charges of attempted unlawful sexual activity with a minor for having intercourse with a 15-year-old girl, according to charging documents.

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting the YWCA's Women in Jeopardy program at 801-537-8600, or the confidential statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-897-LINK (5465). Resources are also available online at


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