Girl told police she gave auto mechanic her number because she liked his uniform
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A 53-year-old Springfield man is facing multiple felony charges for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl who told detectives she liked his auto mechanic's uniform so she chatted him up and gave him her phone number last fall when she spotted him while shopping at a grocery store with her grandmother.
John Perillo pleaded innocent on Monday afternoon to four felony counts of sexual assault on a victim under the age of 16, which is effectively Vermont's equivalent a statutory rape charge, and to a single misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Perillo appeared voluntarily at the courthouse Monday and he was released on pre-trial conditions.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Springfield Police Detective Shaun Smith wrote that back in 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."
Perillo, who does not have a previous criminal record, faces a maximum potential penalty of up to 82 years in prison if he were to be convicted of all the charges now pending against him.
Vermont News can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org