BENNINGTON — A 27-year-old man is accused of exchanging sexually explicit text messages and pictures to a 14-year-old girl.
Michael S. Sousis, of Bennington, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to felony counts of sexual exploitation — luring child/attempted luring, sexual exploitation of a child, and promote sexual recording - visual. He was released under the conditions he obey a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew at a Bennington residence, to not have contact with the girl he's accused of messaging, to not have contact with females under 18, and to not use the Internet for any reason.
According to an affidavit by Vermont State Police Detective Robert Zink, on Sept. 14 he was made aware of text messages sent to a 14-year-old girl allegedly by Sousis that were sexual in nature. Sousis was in a relationship with one of the girl's relatives who discovered the messages on his phone. Police learned of the matter on Sept. 13 when they were summoned to a dispute between family members regarding the messages.
The girl told police she had deleted the messages off her phone. She said she had sent sexual messages of her own back to Sousis, including pictures of herself in her underclothes. Sousis had also sent her four pictures of his penis.
She said that during one exchange of messages, Sousis asked her to come to his house. She said he should come to her, as she was home alone. He did not want to take his truck into the driveway, however, but said he was down the road. She told police she saw his truck go by and called her mother to ask if she could go for a walk, but her mother refused.
Police spoke to Sousis' girlfriend, who said some months ago Sousis complained the girl was texting him repeatedly. The texts were not sexual in nature.
She said she and Sousis have been arguing and that he'd become protective of his phone meanwhile insisting that he read messages she had been sending and receiving. She said that on Sept. 13 she managed to guess his phone's security number and discovered the messages between him and the girl. She confronted him and he became upset, punching himself in the head, then the wall before deleting messages on the phone.
Police recovered the messages allegedly sent between the two. The girl verified they were the messages exchanged. She said she never had physical contact with Sousis.
Zink wrote that he sent a list of release conditions to Sousis' attorney and asked if Sousis would be willing to meet. As of Nov. 20 he had not heard back. The affidavit does not contain a statement from Sousis.