Springfield man reaches plea deal in statutory rape case
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A 54-year-old Springfield man who had been facing the prospect of up to 82 years in prison on multiple statutory rape charges struck a plea deal this week.
John Perillo pled guilty to two felony counts of sexual assault upon a victim under the age of sixteen and in exchange the state dropped two identical felony counts along with a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor that had originally been filed against him back in January.
Although both Perillo and the girl, a New Hampshire resident who was 15 at the time, insisted to authorities that their relationship had been “consensual” when it began a year ago, the girl’s age put the matter squarely in the crosshairs of Vermont’s sexual assault statutes.
Perillo, who has no previous record, was not sentenced this week but the outlines of what the state’s arguments will be at his eventual sentencing hearing were discussed before the judge. The state has agreed to “cap” its request at 5-to-10 years while Perillo’s defense attorney will be allowed to argue for some or even all of that time to be suspended.
A psychiatrist hired by the defense has already completed a “psycho-sexual evaluation” of Perillo and, although the results of that have not been made public, that is expected to play a role in the judge’s determination of how much, if any, time Perillo should actually serve.
It will be at least another month-and-a-half, and possibly early next year, before a formal sentencing hearing is scheduled. In the meantime, Perillo remains out on the same pre-trial released conditions he has been on since his initial arraignment at the beginning of this year.
Detectives who investigated the case said it began a year ago when the 15-year-old girl spotted Perillo while she was shopping at a grocery store with her grandmother and then told him she liked his auto mechanic's uniform while chatting him up and giving him her phone number.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Springfield Police Detective Shaun Smith wrote that last November authorities in New Hampshire began investigating a report that Perillo might have been involved with an underaged girl.
Detective Smith said that during the course of separate interviews with investigators both Perillo and the girl described the relationship as "consensual" and both she and Perillo told police she had initially claimed to be 21-years-old, although Perillo allegedly admitted that he suspected she was younger than that.
Perillo described texting back-and-forth frequently over the course of several weeks and taking the girl out to an all-night restaurant and then to his house in Springfield on several occasions late at night after she would sneak out of her grandparent's house in New Hampshire to see him.
The detective's affidavit said both Perillo and the girl described having dinner, going back to his house for marijuana and sex and then watching the "Hallmark Channel" until it was time to drive her back to New Hampshire where she would sneak back into her home before dawn.
Perillo allegedly told police that after the girl confirmed that she was in fact 15 he stopped having sex with her but he told investigators he still had feelings for her and thought they would be together when she was older.
During her interview, detectives said the girl told them she knew Perillo was almost 40 years older than her but she said he was "really nice and stuff" and that she enjoyed hanging out with him. "It's not like he was forcing me, you know," investigators quoted her as saying, adding that she concluded, "I guess just like I'm just kinda looking for love in the wrong places.”
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