Subscribe for 33¢ / day

One of four men charged with the 2016 sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl at a state Department of Corrections halfway house pleaded guilty Thursday to two felonies.

Reginald H. Patton, 27, of Fitchburg, pleaded guilty under a plea agreement to third-degree sexual assault and exposing himself to a child, a reduction from the charge of second-degree sexual assault for which he was scheduled to stand trial starting on Monday.

Assistant District Attorney Awais Khaleel said that there is no agreement as to what prosecutors would seek when Patton is sentenced but said that for now, it’s likely that he would ask for the maximum sentence for both convictions. Third-degree sexual assault carries up to 10 years of combined prison and extended supervision, while the exposure conviction carries up to 3½ years.

Patton will be sentenced by Dane County Circuit Judge Nicholas McNamara on April 16.

James S. Phillips, 34, Stephon K. Hiler, 23, and Patton were three sex offenders who were being housed by DOC at a home on St. Paul Avenue in the town of Blooming Grove. A fourth man, Nathan J. Thompson, 20, who is charged with taking part in the assaults and brought the girl to the home, was on a Dane County Bail Monitoring Program bracelet at the time.

The girl committed suicide about a month after the July 2016 incident.

Phillips and Hiler pleaded guilty last year to sexual assault charges. McNamara sentenced Phillips to 15 years in prison and Hiler to 20 years in prison. Both of those sentences will begin after the two finish serving sentences for earlier crimes for which their extended supervision and probation were revoked.

Whatever sentence Patton receives for the 2016 sexual assault likely would begin in 2022, when he finishes serving a sentence for sexual assault of a child for which he was on extended supervision that was later revoked.

Thompson is scheduled to stand trial in April.

Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.