BENNINGTON -- A North Street man is accused of attempting to trade alcohol for a sex act with a 15-year-old girl he met via Facebook.
Michael Gormley, 26, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Vermont Superior Court to attempted sex assault on a victim under 16, attempted luring of a child, and furnishing alcohol to a minor. He was released without bail under the conditions he not contact anyone under 16, use the Internet, and not use a computer outside of work.
His attorney, Dan McManus, argued that the police affidavit did not show enough evidence that his client intended to go through with the sex act alleged in the attempted sexual assault count. Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville said Gormley’s Facebook messages showed otherwise.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Detective Anthony Silvestro, on Jan. 25 a 15-year-old girl spoke to Bennington Police Officer Thomas Bull, telling him that she met Gormley over Facebook and wanted him to buy her and her 16-year-old step-brother alcohol. Gormley agreed, but wanted oral sex from the girl.
The girl and her brother met Gormley behind the Stewart’s Shops in Bennington where they gave him $20 for a bottle of vodka. The girl told him because she was with someone, she would meet him the next day for the sex act.
She told police she blocked Gormley on Facebook so she would not have to perform the act. Gormley used a second Facebook account to send her messages. Police said on this second account, Gormley has many "friends" who all appear to be girls in the sixth to eighth grade range.
The 15-year-old said she had never met Gormley before that day, but he often "likes" her posts on Facebook. She said she told him she was 15 and he told her his age.
The girl’s step-brother told police a similar story.
Police were able to access Gormley’s Facebook accounts and read two messages where he tried to contact the 15-year-old using the second account. Police said the Internet service provider address associated with the second account was from Energizer on Gage Street, where Gormley works.
He was interviewed by police on Tuesday and admitted to arranging a meeting where he would give her alcohol in exchange for oral sex. He said he was paid $20 for the alcohol and there was no sex because another person was there, but he did not show up for the meeting the next day as planned.
Gormley said he knew the girl was 15 and admitted to using the second Facebook account in an attempt to reach out to her.
He was asked by police if he had been viewing things online regarding girls of questionable age. Gormley said he likely had, and that he had saved some of these images to his lap top computer but had since deleted them.
Gormley allowed police to take the computer and his cell phone. A search warrant would be needed to check their contents. Rainville indicated Wednesday that was being done.