Robert F. Hernandez, 34, of Plover. Felony charges filed April 10 include child abuse/recklessly causing harm and three counts of bail jumping.

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — One of two suspects in an arson that badly damaged a Wausau tavern is now facing child abuse charges, after allegation surfaced that he beat a 15-year-old boy and tried to stomp on the teen’s chest.

Robert F. Hernandez, 34, appeared Wed., April 17 in Marathon County Circuit Court for a preliminary hearing on charges of child abuse and bail jumping. During Wednesday’s hearing, Circuit Judge Greg Strasser bound Hernandez over for trial.

Police arrested Hernandez after a family member reported the suspected abuse. The alleged victim, who is a relative of Hernandez, told police Hernandez beat him with a closed fist on several occasions and had a history of abusive behavior toward him, according to the criminal complaint.

Hernandez, who now lives in Plover, is also a suspect in the Aug. 4, 2016 blaze at Cabaret, 204 E. Rib Mountain Drive. He is also facing separate, unrelated charges of fleeing an officer in a case filed in May 2017 that has not yet concluded.

Tony Patterson, Jr., 40, is also a suspect in the fire.

Hernandez, who has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2001, has prior convictions for battery, burglary, cocaine trafficking, obstruction, disorderly conduct. Court records show he is free on a $2,500 cash bond.

A motion hearing is set for May 28.