The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Gile man faces child sex charges


June 28, 2018

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

Phillip R. Laguna Jr., right, sits in Iron County Court Wednesday while Iron County District Attorney Matt Tingstad addresses the court during Laguna's bond hearing. Laguna is accused of sexually assaulting a minor under the age of 13. A $50,000 cash bond was set in the case.


Hurley - A Gile man accused of sexually assaulting a child is going to have to come up with $50,000 to get out of jail after Iron County Judge Patrick Madden set a cash bond in that amount at a hearing Wednesday.

Phillip R. Laguna Jr., 68, is charged with two counts of 1st degree child sexual assault-contact with a child under the age of 13, felony intimidation of a victim and physical abuse of a child-intentionally causing physical harm.

"Mr. Laguna there's no question you do have positive attributes and you have responsibilities, but I have to take the facts that have been presented by the state as something I have to respond to appropriately," Madden said, when setting the bond. "Given the seriousness of the charges, given the number of charges, given the history of charges related to this; I think the request for the $50,000 is within the scope of reason."

The charges against Laguna stem from a pair of incidents - one in March of 2011 or 2012 and the other in late 2014, according to the criminal complaint in the case, signed by Iron County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Matt Foryan.

In the first incident, Laguna is accused of assaulting the victim while he slept. The victim said Laguna stopped the alleged assault when he noticed the victim was awake. The next day, according to the complaint, Laguna said he would hurt the victim if he ever told anyone what happened.

The 2014 incident also allegedly happened at Laguna's house, when the victim fell asleep playing video games. According to the complaint, the victim woke up to Laguna sitting on the bed rubbing his genitals. When the victim yelled, Laguna allegedly swore and threw him into a chair.

"This caused victim pain in his back and neck for a couple weeks," the complaint reads.

In court Tuesday, Laguna repeatedly denied the charges and said he would never harm the victim.

"I did not touch that boy, I did not touch (the victim). I did not," Laguna said.

Iron County District Attorney Matt Tingstad asked the court to set a "significant cash bond" to protect the community and ensure Laguna attended future court dates.

"We're dealing with extremely significant charges here, where our No. 1 concern is the safety of the victim and the safety of the public," Tingstad said. "Quite frankly, I don't know what Mr. Laguna could do. Nobody knows what he will do. He has been through this court system before, and he has acted irrational at times."

He also cited Laguna's past criminal history, referencing a 1993 conviction of sexual contact with a person under the age of 16 and a 2005 4th degree sexual assault conviction.

Laguna also pleaded no-contest to violating a harassment restraining order and obstructing a police officer earlier this year. That case had a deferred entry of judgement and is still in the court system.

In making the case for a high bond amount, Tingstad said there are reports Laguna has violated existing no-contact orders.

"My concern is that if Mr. Laguna is out he'll go in the community - he has nothing to lose - and he will go intimidate, harass, or do much worse (to) injure the victim or the victim's mother," Tingstad said.

He also argued Laguna could be charged as a "persistent repeater" under Wisconsin law, which would mean the sentence for the sexual assault charges would increase from up to 60 years in prison to life in prison without parole.

Laguna asked for house arrest, or to be put on an ankle bracelet so he could take care of his wife.

"My wife has just undergone serious surgery, she almost died. She can't lift anything, she can't do housework - nothing," Laguna said. "It's a big mess, is what it is."

He argued he has never missed court or violated house arrested in past.

Should Laguna post bond and be released, he is ordered to have no contact with anyone he has existing no contact orders with, or anyone under the age of 16.

Madden said the bond amount and conditions associated with it could be re-examined once Laguna has an attorney appointed to represent him in the case.


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