by John Ramsey
An extramarital affair that began on Craigslist has cost the former top enlisted Special Forces Command Soldier his position and is forcing him to retire early, he testified in Cumberland County court Friday.
Former Command Sgt. Maj. Mario Vigil took the stand Friday morning to ask Chief District Court Judge Beth Keever to order Connie Delaine Pruitt to stop contacting him and his family. Keever ordered Pruitt, who did not show up for the hearing, to follow a one-year restraining order that prohibits any direct or indirect contact with Vigil or his family.
Pruitt, of Durham County, says in court documents that she is pregnant with Vigil's child. In the military, adultery is a crime. She did not immediately return a call from a reporter Friday.
Vigil on Friday admitted to the affair and said he now just wants Pruitt to leave him alone so he and his wife can work to repair their marriage.
"I wish this court action would not have been necessary, but I was at my wit's end on how to protect myself and my family from further harassment from Connie Pruitt," Vigil said.
Vigil said he met with Pruitt three times after answering her Craigslist ad last September seeking men for sex. The third time, he said he told her he wanted to stop their relationship. That's when she told him she was pregnant. In court filings, Pruitt says she is expecting a child Aug. 2.
Vigil said he isn't sure whether she is pregnant or whether the baby is his.
"She wanted me to pay her," he said.
On Feb. 15, Vigil and his wife sent an email to Pruitt notifying her that they would consider any further attempts to contact them as harassment. But Pruitt didn't stop. She sent letters detailing the affair to Vigil's relatives and in-laws. After Feb. 15, she sent Vigil 65 text messages and more than 10 emails, he testified.
She dropped off packages at his workplace, including one that contained a poem, baby clothes and a sonogram picture.
On April 19, Vigil asked for a restraining order against Pruitt. His court date was delayed multiple times before Friday.
Vigil said he told his priest, his wife and his chain of command about his infidelity before Pruitt could go to them.
Pruitt, he said, kept asking for money. At one point, he gave her $480 for an abortion.
Documents from the military investigation into the affair say the adultery was substantiated, but there was no evidence to support Pruitt's other claim that Vigil shared classified information with her.
Vigil in 2008 became the top noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, which includes about 14,000 Soldiers. He has served about 30 years in the Army, 4 1/2 years deployed in Desert Storm and the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Due to the investigation into the affair, he was relieved from his position as command sergeant major of Special Forces Command and received a letter of reprimand from Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, commander of the United States Army Special Operations Command.
Vigil said his retirement should be final within six months.
"Bottom line, I was wrong. I should never have been in a relationship with her," Vigil said Friday outside the courtroom. "I'll take my lumps for it, and I have, and I'll move on."