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Former Jamestown teacher pleads not guilty in felony sex case

Richard Laqua, left, and his attorney Steven Light, right. (Keith Norman/Jamestown Sun)

Richard Laqua, 54, Jamestown, pleaded not guilty to two felony charges during an arraignment hearing Monday afternoon at Southeast District Court in Jamestown. Judge Thomas Merrick presided over the hearing.

Laqua, a former teacher at the James Valley Career and Technology Center, is charged with sexual assault and luring a minor by computer or other electronic means. Both charges are Class C felonies and punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The charges relate to alleged incidents on or about Nov. 7, 2010, involving a minor girl.

He is accused of touching the buttocks of a juvenile girl over the age of 15 as well as sending her explicit text messages on Nov. 7.

Laqua resigned from his position with the JVCTC.

The proceeding was originally scheduled as a preliminary hearing. However, that proceeding was waived by Laqua. It would have required the prosecution to present its case to determine if there was probable cause to proceed to trial.

Merrick said the process of scheduling motion hearings and a trial date could be completed this week.