The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bessemer man sentenced to prison in child abuse case


September 19, 2018

Submitted photo

Matthew James LaPlant


Bessemer - A Bessemer man convicted of child abuse last month will serve at least six years in prison.

Gogebic County Circuit Judge Michael Pope sentenced Matthew James LaPlant, 37, on three felonies Tuesday.

"The normal victim impact paperwork does not adequately address the depth of suffering, mental or physical, (the victim) has endured and will have to recover from for many months and years," Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tracie Wittla said, quoting a letter written by the now-8-year-old victim's court-appointed guardian. "(The victim) does not want another child to feel sad and scared, as he has, or to suffer the abuse that he has suffered. He would not want Mr. LaPlant to be around children or to have a chance to do this again."

In August, a jury convicted LaPlant of one count of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of second degree child abuse.

Pope sentenced LaPlant to between six and 30 years for unlawful imprisonment and between six and 20 years for each of the child abuse convictions.

The three sentences will run concurrently.

The charges usually have maximum sentences of 10 years in prison for the abuse charges, and 15 years in prison for the unlawful imprisonment charge. However, as Wittla filed a habitual offender-third offense notice in the case, the possible maximum sentences were doubled.

During his trial, LaPlant was accused of physically abusing his ex-girlfriend's then 7-year-old son while they were living together on South Barber Street in Bessemer's Yale location; as well as locking him in a dog kennel, calling him names and making him put soiled underwear in his mouth as punishment.

The trial also featured evidence regarding the long-term impact the abuse will have on the child.

"It is my clinical opinion (the child) has received serious psychological harm, in addition to the physical abuse he suffered," testified Jamie-Ann Dieterle, a licensed clinical social worker who assessed the child. "This young man will not be the same again. His childhood has been forever changed."

She said he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, while also diagnosing him as having a rare hair-pulling disorder when subjected to stress.

After three days of testimony, the jury in the case deliberated for the better part of three hours Aug. 17 before finding LaPlant guilty of the three felonies.

The victim's mother is also facing charges in connection to the child's abuse.

Kayla Marie Brown, 26, is facing one count of first degree child abuse, two counts of second degree child abuse and one count of unlawful imprisonment. All four counts are felonies, with first degree child abuse carrying a potential maximum sentence of up to life in prison.

Her next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 10.


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