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Music promoter pleads guilty to touching teen
By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff

Mark A. Pauga

 

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Published: 7/15/2008 11:59 AM | Updated: 7/15/2008 5:37 PM

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A suburban music promoter accused of fondling a teenage boy he met online admitted guilt to a reduced charge Tuesday as part of a plea bargain that allows him to avoid a potential prison stay.

Mark A. Pauga, 49, of Villa Park, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery under the deal with McHenry County prosecutors and was sentenced to two years probation, a $1,500 fine and 100 hours of community service.

The sentence also includes a six-month term in the McHenry County jail, but Pauga will not have to serve that time unless he violates the terms of his probation. Those terms include no contact with the victim, a now 17-year-old Lake in the Hills resident, and no time alone with anyone younger than 18.

Pauga had been facing up to seven years in prison and a requirement he register as a sex offender if found guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and unlawful restraint charges initially filed against him in July 2006.

However, county prosecutors agreed to the lesser charge in part because the teenage boy gave conflicting statements about where Pauga touched him.

"He recanted his original statement and said (Pauga) touched him, but not in a sexual area," said Nichole Owens, criminal chief for the McHenry County State's Attorney's office.

Pauga's attorney, Brian Telander, said his client admits touching the boy "in an insulting or provoking manner," but continues to deny there was any sexual intent behind it.

Pauga, he said, believed he could win a trial, in part because the victim made four separate statements about the incident, including two in which he denied he was touched.

"But after evaluating it, my client decided he did not want to take the risk of a trial and the severe consequences of being found guilty of a sex offense," Telander said.

The initial charges stemmed from allegations Pauga met the then 15-year-old boy over the MySpace social networking Web site and arranged for them to get together July 29, 2006, at a fast-food restaurant in Lake in the Hills.

Authorities said the boy agreed to get into Pauga's car, but once inside, the charges alleged, Pauga fondled him and refused to let him leave. Eventually, police said, the boy was allowed out of the vehicle.