Courier staff writer
SAN LUIS — A district court judge on Thursday continued the hearing of a Costilla County resident accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to an underage girl, after the man’s attorney said she may be close to resolving the case.
Prosecutors originally charged 56-year-old Clarence Vigil with Internet sexual exploitation of a child and Internet luring of a child. But they later agreed to drop both Class 4 felony charges if he pleads guilty to “contributing to the delinquency of a minor with a sexual factual basis.”
The offer was originally scheduled to remain open for 60 days after Vigil’s first appearance in district court on Thursday. However, 12th Judicial District Judge Michael Gonzales agreed to continue that first appearance to Aug. 15.
If the two parties haven’t come to a resolution by that time, Judge Gonzales will set a date for a jury trial.
Yet defense attorney Emily Long suggested that some sort of resolution might be on the horizon. She said she has received “potentially exculpatory” evidence that could bring an end to the case.
Authorities arrested Vigil on Feb. 3, after a San Luis man reported that his 11-year-old daughter had been using her iPod to communicate with the suspect.
A Costilla County Sheriff’s corporal who examined the device reported he found several inappropriate text messages on it.
Cpl. Mico Fernandez also obtained a written statement from the girl, who alleged that Vigil sent her several explicit text messages, and asked her to send him photos of herself. The girl claimed she responded by sending Vigil two intimate pictures.
However, when Fernandez questioned Vigil, the suspect denied that he had any communication whatsoever with the girl.
Vigil gave Fernandez his consent to inspect his phone, and the corporal did not find any potentially incriminating messages when he examined it at that time. Nor did he find any nude pictures of the girl, although Fernandez reported that he discovered one photo in which she appeared fully clothed alongside another person.