Monday June 24, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A Pleasant Street man is facing a felony after police said a 14-year-old girl told them he kissed her.

Joshua P. Hayes, 21, pleaded not guilty Friday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division to lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. He was released on conditions that he obey a check-in schedule at the Bennington Police Department, live under a nighttime curfew, and not have contact with women under 18 except family members with another adult present.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Sgt. Michael Plush, on June 18 a woman told police she believed her daughter was in a relationship with a man in his 20s. She said she learned this from text messages sent to the girl's phone by her friend.

Plusch said he spoke to the girl who said she had been speaking to Hayes for a month and gone to his apartment twice. She said the second time was to help him clean his apartment and after they finished she was on the couch with him and he asked to kiss her. She said yes, and he kissed her on the mouth and neck, leaving marks on her neck. The girl said Hayes knew how old she was and asked her not to say anything about the kissing. She told police this was consensual and she had not consumed alcohol or smoked marijuana. She said Hayes had drank two beers while his friend, who was there, had smoked marijuana.

Plusch said he had difficulty locating Hayes and was told by the girl's mother that her daughter might be tipping Hayes off to the police looking for him. Plusch said when he went to Hayes' apartment the first time, he saw the three apparent marijuana plants in the window. When he came back a second time, they were gone.

Hayes was arrested at Mack Molding in Arlington, where he works, by State Police. According to Plusch's affidavit, when told he was being arrested for lewd conduct with a child, Hayes said "for what leaving some hickeys on her neck."

He also said "I got a question, why am I getting in trouble for her lying about her age, that's stupid," according to the affidavit.

Plusch did not indicate whether or not Hayes said anything after being read his Miranda rights, however his mother said when she came to claim his property the girl told Hayes she was 17.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.