Youth pastor charged in abuse of teen girl in Seaford home, police say
A 37-year-old Seaford man has been arraigned after police said an investigation by Special Victims Squad detectives, the FBI and Missouri police determined he'd "engaged in a sexual act" with a teenage girl he had met while acting as a youth pastor at a 2011 Christian retreat in Michigan.
Nassau County police said Jesse Vargas met the girl, then 13, at the Incredible Journey to Christianity retreat in 2011. Two years later he arranged for the 15-year-old girl to visit his Seaford home — where he engaged in the sexual act, police said in a statement.
Authorities began the joint investigation, which involved the Nassau Special Victims Squad, FBI Crimes Against Children Division and the Hazelwood Police Department in Missouri, after a complaint was filed last year. Police said the girl traveled to Seaford on June 20, 2013, and the investigation is continuing.
Vargas was arrested at his home at 3 a.m. Friday and was charged with third-degree criminal sex act, a felony, third-degree sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child.
He was held in the Nassau County jail after arraignment on bail of $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash and a temporary order or protection was issued against him, according to online court records.
"Although these charges stem from an alleged incident eight years ago, the case, and an intensive defense investigation, have just begun. We, therefore, ask that judgment be reserved," said Vargas' attorney, Edward V. Sapone of Garden City. "While these accusations are no doubt serious, there can also be no doubt that Jesse is a man who has devoted his life to serving the community."
Police ask anyone else who believes they may have been a victim of Vargas to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS or the Special Victims Squad at 516-573-4022. Tipsters can also call 911, police said. All calls will remain confidential.