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Erie Man Charged with Soliciting Marshall Co. Child

Saul Vega Jr.

An Erie, Pennsylvania, man remains jailed on felony charges of attempting to solicit a minor for sex earlier this year.

According to police records, Saul Vega Jr., 41, made contact with a 13-year-old Glen Dale girl on the dating website Adult Friend Finder and, in May, met the girl for sex. The girl told police that she represented herself as being 18 years old on the site and, after the fact, told friends that she had been sexually assaulted, at which point police became involved.

Investigators took over the girl’s online profile, where Vega continued to communicate with police, apparently believing he was in contact with the girl. Vega allegedly said he had found out about the girl’s age before proceeding to send sexually explicit messages to the profile over the course of more than a month. In June, Vega allegedly sent messages to a phone he believed to be the girl’s, saying he wanted “to see my girl” and asking for explicit pictures. Vega allegedly continued to send a string of explicit messages to the phone over the following week.

The following day, investigators posing as the girl told Vega that her parents would be out of town while a fictional friend was visiting, at which point Vega allegedly invited himself over, with a 12 pack of beer. Around 9 p.m., Vega entered the residence and immediately was detained by West Virginia State Police and federal law enforcement agents. Vega allegedly was apprehended with a pack of condoms, a bottle of lubricant and a smartphone in his possession. The beer was found inside his car.

When questioned, Vega allegedly said he did plan to meet the girl he thought he had been messaging, admitting that he had planned to engage in sexual conduct with her and the friend, as well as revealing more explicit details about their previous contact.

Vega was charged with soliciting a minor and traveling to engage a minor in prohibited sexual activity. He remained lodged at the Northern Regional Jail on Tuesday in lieu of $250,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is at 2 p.m. today before Marshall County Magistrate Tom Wood.

Prosecutor Rhonda Wade said no charges have yet been filed in connection with the sexual contact during the initial meeting between Vega and the child, though an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

For the time being, Wade said she is satisfied with the police work that got Vega off the streets.

“Her coming forward with that definitely led to this,” Wade said regarding the girl telling friends she had been assaulted. “There was very good work by the police to keep this from happening again. He certainly would have, with no hesitation, once he learned she was 13, to come back. And that’s the issue with the other case. We have to do some investigation, about what he knew and what happened, the facts surrounding the first time.”

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