NJ officer accused of luring 12-year-old girl

Apr 25, 2012, 10:14 PM

Associated Press

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) – A New Jersey police officer sent a 12-year-old girl explicit photos of himself in uniform and tried to set up a sexual encounter with her, days after meeting the girl while assisting her family in an unrelated police matter, authorities said Wednesday.

Woodland Park Police Officer Steven Vigorito Jr. pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges ranging from attempted aggravated sexual assault to luring and enticing a child. He was being held on $250,000 bail following his arrest while on duty Tuesday night. A message left after-hours for the public defender who represented him at the arraignment was not returned.

Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes said the girl’s mother complained to the police department on Monday that the officer had made inappropriate comments to her daughter, had given her his private cellphone number and had asked her to text him. Woodlawn Park Police Chief Anthony Galietti said they immediately contacted the prosecutor’s office, whose detectives posed as the girl and started exchanging texts with Vigorito.

The texts became increasingly explicit over the course of several days, prosecutors said. Vigorito eventually texted the girl photographs in which he was exposing himself while wearing his police uniform and arranged to meet her for a sexual encounter, prosecutors alleged.

The girl was never in harm’s way, and never exchanged texts with the officer, Valdes said.

“What is so disturbing about this, is the person who was to assist the family, ends up preying on the family,” Valdes said.

The 39-year-old Vigorito has been with the police department for 12 years in Woodland Park, a small suburb about 15 miles from Manhattan. The town, known until a recent voter-approved name change as West Paterson, is a bucolic, leafy borough of neatly landscaped homes adjacent to Paterson, a grittier, more industrialized urban neighbor.

Vigorito, who New York television station WABC-7 reported is a married father of two, was arrested Tuesday night in the police station while on the night shift, according to Galietti, who said the patrolman was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

The arrest of one of the 25 officers on the force has shaken the small department, Galietti said.

“It’s very upsetting, when you have one of your own do something like this. It’s very upsetting,” he said. Galietti added that department officials had acted immediately upon receiving the family’s complaint about the officer, and had no hesitation in alerting the prosecutor’s office.

“When this came to light we went into it head-on. We didn’t care if it was one of our own,” he said. “I’m the father of five kids, and this is wrong. It’s a very inappropriate situation. Unfortunately, he (Vigorito) had a badge at the time.”

___

Follow Samantha Henry at
http://www.twitter.com/SamanthaHenry

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquart...
Associated Press

Asian stocks higher after Fed says rate hikes may be needed

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets gained Thursday after the Federal Reserve said higher U.S. interest rates might be needed to cool inflation. Shanghai, Tokyo and Sydney advanced. Hong Kong declined. Oil prices edged higher after falling below $100 per barrel this week. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index gained 0.4% on Wednesday after notes […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Sumo wrestler Takayuki Ichihara from Japan, left, fights against Keisho Shimoda from Japan, ...
Associated Press

Pandemic-delayed World Games open in Birmingham a year late

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Games open Thursday in Alabama featuring more than 3,600 athletes participating in non-Olympic events including sumo wrestling, gymnastics, pickleball, martial arts and tug of war. The opening ceremony, set for Thursday night at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, includes performances by Nelly […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Sentencing set for 2 in Arizona ballot harvesting case

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — Two women are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in southern Arizona for their conviction for illegally collecting four early ballots during the 2020 primary election. Authorities say Guillermina Fuentes and Alma Juarez participated in “ballot harvesting.” That’s a practice once used by both political parties to boost turnout but was made […]
24 hours ago
FILE - A house sits in Rock Creek after floodwaters washed away a road and a bridge in Red Lodge, M...
Associated Press

Yellowstone flooding reveals forecast flaws as climate warms

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Yellowstone National Park area’s weather forecast the morning of June 12 seemed fairly tame: warmer temperatures and rain showers would accelerate mountain snow melt and could produce “minor flooding.” A National Weather Service bulletin recommended moving livestock from low-lying areas but made no mention of danger to people. By nightfall, […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: July 7, female cadets at West Point

Today in History Today is Thursday, July 7, the 188th day of 2022. There are 177 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On July 7, 1976, the United States Military Academy at West Point included female cadets for the first time as 119 women joined the Class of 1980. On this date: […]
24 hours ago
A police officer prepares an ATV for patrol ahead of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Nusa Dua...
Associated Press

Russia’s war in Ukraine to overshadow G20 talks in Bali

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations are gathering in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali for talks bound to be dominated by the conflict in Ukraine despite an agenda focused on global cooperation and food and energy security. The one-day gathering will take place on Friday […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
NJ officer accused of luring 12-year-old girl