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Former ConVal school employee plans to plead to sex assault charges

Union Leader Correspondent

February 20. 2013 6:17PM

KEENE - A former Rindge police officer and ConVal High School employee plans to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of sexual assault in Cheshire County Superior Court next month.

His mother, Rosemary Cifrino, 65, of Chesham Road, Harrisville, has been charged with felony witness tampering after police say she told the victim's mother to lie to protect him.

John Vargas-Cifrino, 35, of Harrisville, is charged with one felony charge of attempted aggravated sexual assault and two counts of misdemeanor sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl in Keene last May.

He initially pleaded not guilty after his arrest in August, but he has since negotiated a plea with prosecutors in which the felony charge would be dropped and he would plead guilty to the misdemeanor charges and face up to a year in jail, according to court documents.

Vargas-Cifrino was scheduled to plead guilty earlier this month, but the hearing was canceled due to a snowstorm. He is now expected to appear in court March 26.

Vargas-Cifrino has been friends with the girl's family for the past 13 years. Last year he had spent about a year sleeping on the couch at the family's Keene home. The alleged incident took place in May, and the girl reported to police that before the incident he had been coming into her room in the middle of the night and would lie next to her on her bed.

In May his alleged behavior escalated when she reported he entered her room and touched her breasts and genitalia while she pretended to be asleep.

Keene police were made aware of the incident after a Catholic priest contacted interim Rindge Police Chief Frank Morrill on Aug. 4.

Court documents say Vargas-Cifrino initially contacted the priest through Facebook.

While Keene police were conducting a criminal investigation, Chief Morrill confronted Vargas-Cifrino in the process of an internal Rindge police administrative investigation, and Vargas-Cifrino immediately resigned from his police job.

On Aug. 9 Keene police arrested and charged Vargas-Cifrino with one count of attempted felonious sexual assault.

He was placed on unpaid leave by the ConVal School District but resigned from that job shortly after being placed on leave.

Vargas-Cifrino had been a police officer for 15 years and a part-time officer in Rindge for the past 11 years. At ConVal High School in Peterborough, he had been an aide helping students with behavioral difficulties.

According to her arrest affidavit, Rosemary Cifrino went to the victim's home to collect personal items belonging to her son on Aug. 7 and while there told the victim's mother to "lie and not tell anyone" about the sexual assault.

Cifrino went on to tell the mother "talking to the police will ruin her son's career and he will end up killing himself over it," Detective Jennifer M. Ramey wrote in the affidavit.

Cifrino also told the victim's mother that she had warned her son "how something would happen, just like it did the last time he was in a similar situation."

Cifrino was arrested in November and waived her right for a probable cause hearing in district court. The case has been bound over to Cheshire County Superior Court.

Crime, law and justice Harrisville Keene Rindge

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