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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Former Teacher Found Guilty Of Sexual Assault

Issue Date: September 26, 2019

Following a three-day jury trial before Judge James A. Morrison in Marinette County Circuit Court, Branch II, former Little Chute High School teacher Jason LaVigne, 47, of Appleton, was found guilty of third-degree sexual assault. By Wisconsin law, third-degree sexual assault is a Class G felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Date for sentencing has not yet been set.

LaVigne had been arrested on Wednesday, June 3, 2018 after allegedly assaulting his daughter's 16-year-old friend the previous day during a pontoon boat ride while she was a guest at the LaVigne family cabin at N9863 Penny Lane on High Falls Flowage in the Town of Stephenson.

Prosecution was handled by Marinette County Assistant District Attorney Cody J. Marschall. LaVigne's defense was handled by Atty. Kevin Musolf of Appleton.

Among those who testified on Tuesday was the alleged victim, who had been a friend of LaVigne's daughter at the time and was a guest at the cottage. Name of the victim is withheld in accord with Wisconsin law. Both the victim and the daughter testified during the trial that they are no longer friends.

Another who testified on the first day of the trial was Deputy Craig Kasten of the Marinette County Sheriff's Department, who stated that LaVigne told him the girl got on his lap and approached him and "was asking him to do things to her."

Witnesses called on Wednesday, Sept. Sept. 18 included Dana Stueber, a nurse who conducted the SANE exam (Sexual Assault Nurse Exam) on the victim at St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, where the victim's parents had taken her after picking her up at the driveway to the LaVigne cabin in the Town of Stephenson shortly after the assault for which LaVigne was convicted.

LaVigne is already serving a prison term on an unrelated count of sexual abuse of a child for which he was convicted after a three-day jury trial in April in Outagamie County. The jury there found Lavigne guilty of repeated sexual assault of a child in connection with a series of incidents that took place nearly two decades ago when the victim was a freshman at Little Chute High School. On June 25, Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Biskupic sentenced Lavigne to 5 years in prison and 11 years of extended supervision on that count.

That case came to light after Marinette County investigators looking into the assault in the Town of Stephenson learned about the incidents and contacted Fox Valley Metro Police. Their inquiries led police to LaVigne's school personnel file, where they found information that a student had accused LaVigne of rubbing his genitals against her numerous times in a keyboarding class she took as a freshman at Little Chute High School in 2000. A follow-up investigation led to LaVigne's arrest and conviction for those offenses.

Jury selection for the Marinette County trial took place on Tuesday, Sept. 17, opening statements were made that afternoon, and the jury heard testimony from the victim, Kasten and Stueber. Stueber showed the girl had three notable injuries at the time of the exam that appeared to be "suction type" injuries on her shoulder and near her breast, and an injury to her vaginal region.

Wisconsin Crime Lab DNA Analyst Rebecca Bohr testified on Wednesday that foreign DNA found near girl's breast injury was that of Lavigne.

LaVigne, who also testified on Wednesday, admitted to serving the girls drinks (vodka and lemonade) while they were on the pontoon boat. He said his daughter was napping and he had been napping in his captain's chair when he woke to find the girl on top of him, kissing him and asking him to have sex with her.

Lavigne's daughter testified she had awakened to see the alleged victim on top of her father, without her bikini bottoms on, but had turned over and pretended to still be asleep.

LaVigne said he moved away, but the girl kept trying to grab his shorts and he told her to

"knock it off". He said he got more forceful and believes that is why his daughter let them know she was awake.

LaVigne's daughter testified that the girl had told her "your dad raped me,".

The girl then left the cabin and waited by the road for her parents to arrive without telling either LaVigne or his daughter. Lavigne and his daughter then left the cabin and returned to Appleton and the daughter spent the night at the home of a different friend.

The father and daughter then had a text message conversation about what had happened, in which the daughter said she had not been asleep. In that exchange LaVigne had said (the girl) was drunk and acting crazy and I kept trying to push her away." The daughter texted back, "I know."

LaVigne had been arrested and taken to Marinette County Jail later that day.

While in jail LaVigne had a telephone conversation with his wife and daughter.

Marschall asked the daughter if LaVigne had instructed her on what to tell law enforcement, and she said he had not. Marschall then played a recording of the phone call, in which LaVigne had advised that the police might come to ask her questions about what she had seen and heard. The daughter's voice responded she heard "please" and that she saw the girl on top of LaVigne.

On the recording LaVigne could be heard saying, "Tell them I tried to get her off of me, that's what you tell them".She was asking to have sex with me and I was telling her no""

Marschall again asked the daughter if LaVigne had told her what to say, and she again said he did not, ""he was just reassuring me what I just said I heard. He wasn't telling me what happened. I was there and I saw it and I heard it."

Other witnesses called included "witness 1," who said in June of 2017, when she was 15, she and several other friends had gone to the cabin with LaVigne and his daughter and he had touched her thighs and tried to pull her onto his lap while they sat in a hot tub together. Another person who had been present testified she had seen that happen. When asked about it, LaVigne denied the incident.

Witness 1 also said later that same summer she had been driving LaVigne's Jeep back to her home with LaVigne in the passenger seat and when they arrived he had grabbed her and tried to kiss her. LaVigne countered that he had joked about kissing because it felt like they were on a first date and she had taken it the wrong way.

Musolf questioned lack of LaVigne's DNA in all the swab tests taken except that from the left breast area and also some flaws in the girl's recollection of some things, including how many times the pontoon boat had stopped that day. Marschall countered with arguments about the scientific evidence, and pointed out that LaVigne had served the alcohol that caused both the alleged victim and the daughter to be intoxicated.

Testimony was completed on Wednesday. On Thursday attorneys for each side presented their closing arguments, after which the jury deliberated behind closed doors before returning with the guilty verdict.


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