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story.lead_photo.caption Michael Avila - Photo by (Via Texarkana Gazette)

TEXARKANA — A man who engaged in sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old girl he met while coaching a softball team was sentenced to five years’ probation Tuesday at a hearing in Miller County.

Michael Avila, 35, of Texarkana appeared before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson with Texarkana lawyer John Pickett to enter a plea to fourth-degree felony sexual assault. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell said the victim and her mother asked that Avila receive probation in lieu of prison time.

Mitchell asked Johnson to warn Avila that, as a registered sex offender, he is no longer free to attend girls softball games. When Avila was released on bond, he was ordered to have no contact with the victim but no restrictions were placed on him with respect to other children.

“It has come to my attention that he continues to attend ball games, and I just want to make it clear that as a registered sex offender he can no longer do that,” Mitchell said. “I’ve gotten calls from a number of concerned parents.”

Avila asked the court about events involving his own daughter.

“It’s not about your daughter, it’s about other kids,” Johnson said.

Avila came to the attention of authorities in Miller County last year, according to a probable cause affidavit. During an interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Texarkana, the 15-year-old victim described being sexually abused by Avila in a Miller County deer stand in November 2016, the affidavit said.

The girl reported that Avila asked her about “past relationships with boys” while the two were alone in the deer stand and that on a subsequent trip to Avila’s deer lease, Avila kissed her and asked for oral sex, the affidavit said. The girl said she refused Avila’s advance at first but eventually agreed to do as he asked.

Avila confessed during an Oct. 11 interview with Miller County sheriff ’s office Investigator Patsy DeHart, according to the affidavit.

“Mr. Avila stated he was afraid this would ‘come up’ but he was going to be honest and tell the truth,” the affidavit said.

In addition to four years of probation, Avila must register as a sex offender and pay a $1,000 fine and various court costs. The maximum possible punishment for fourth-degree sexual assault under Arkansas law is six years in prison.


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