SOUTHINGTON - A local man, convicted in January of kissing and fondling a teenage girl, has admitted to violating his probation by contacting the victim in July - something his attorney maintains was inadvertent.
Michael Giuffrida, 47, of 125 Cascade Ridge, accepted a plea bargain on Wednesday, in Bristol Superior Court, that allowed him to admit guilt without any further penalty. He was continued on his probation after he made a formal admission that he violated the terms of the probationary period.
According to the arrest warrant, Giuffrida sent the victim a message on Skype, despite a condition of his probation prohibiting any contact. The message caused the girl to fall back into anxiety attacks and other emotional issues, the document continued.
On Wednesday, in court, Giuffrida's attorney said the girl first contacted his client over Skype and, when Giuffrida tried to "swipe" the message away, he accidentally sent something in response.
In January, Giuffrida pleaded no contest to one count of risk of injury to a minor - a felony. In exchange, one count of fourth-degree sexual assault was dropped. The no contest plea was done in the event civil action is taken against Giuffrida, his lawyer said at the time.
According to court documents, Giuffrida was arrested Feb. 1, 2017, for kissing a 13-year-old and fondling her. State prosecutors at his sentencing in January - when he received three years in prison, suspended, and three years of probation - said he took advantage of a teen girl who had recently lost her father. He used that situation to cultivate their relationship, making her think it was OK, prosecutors had said.
Giuffrida, according to the probation warrant, reported to his probation officer on July 24 that he had received an electronic notification from the victim on Skype - a program that allows users to video chat and type messages to each other. He told his officer he did not respond.
After investigating, Giuffrida’s probation officer found that he had sent the victim an emoji of a smiley face that waved and said “hi”, the warrant said. The girl had gotten a new computer and Skype account, so she had not noticed the message.
The mother of the victim told the probation officer that her daughter’s mood had changed since receiving the alleged contact from Giuffrida. She said she had completed therapy and was doing well, but the incident caused her anxiety to start again. The girl also started acting irritable, the warrant continued.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.