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Missoula public defender arrested on suspicion of strangulation

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william managhan

William Managhan. 

A Missoula public defender is in custody following accusations that he physically abused and strangled a child in his care.

William L. Managhan, 52, is charged with one felony count of strangulation. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a $50,000 fine.

Court documents allege that 911 received a call from Managhan on Friday evening. Officers responded to his house in Missoula. Managhan reported a child in his care was "freaking out," had bit him and threatened to stab him. Managhan said the two got into an argument over the child's use of a cell phone.

Officers spoke with the child, who told them the dispute started when Managhan refused to leave the child alone when asked. After being asked to quit provoking, Managhan reportedly responded by saying "what are you going to do?"

Managhan pulled the child off the couch and started throwing the child around, charging documents say. As the child stood up and tried to get away from him, Managhan wrapped his arms around the child's neck. He choked the child, preventing the youth from breathing.

He threw the child on the floor again — the juvenile then yelled at Managhan to call 911 so law enforcement would come.

According to charging documents, the child disclosed prior incidents of physical assault by Managhan while talking with officers.

Managhan is currently a public defender in Missoula. When asked if Managhan is still employed following the allegations, The Office of Public Defenders said they do not comment on personnel matters. 

At his initial appearance, Managhan said he's worried about how this case might impact his clients in the Missoula criminal justice system.

"This is too great of a risk for me as well as to all the people I represent," he said.

Missoula County Justice of the Peace Alex Beal ordered Managhan to have no contact with the victim and released him on his own recognizance, citing Magahan's lack of criminal history and that he's not a flight risk.

An arraignment is set for June 6 in Missoula County District Court.

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