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Atlantic City man guilty in longtime abuse of his children

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A man accused of holding his children prisoner while sexually preying on his teenage stepdaughter was convicted Monday of endangering three of the four children who lived in his home.
But jurors were unable to agree whether Miguel Vargas sexually abused his teenage stepdaughter years ago.
Vargas ran his Atlantic City home like a tyrant, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Buckley told jurors in her closing last week.
His stepson, the only boy, was kept isolated in his room since the age of 9, banging on the floor to remind his parents to feed him.
An untreated eye infection left him legally blind in one eye, killing his childhood dream of becoming a firefighter, Buckley said.
The children’s mother has stood by her husband, although a letter read in court she sent to her daughter apologized for the abuse she knew the girl was being put through.
“It was his world, it was his kingdom, his fiefdom,” Buckley told jurors before deliberations began Thursday.
But his control was compromised Sept. 13, 2015, when his younger daughter escaped out a window and did what the children had been warned against: shared what was happening inside the home, Buckley said.
“This is the day that the cage birds began to sing,” she told jurors.
Their song was one of abuse, fear and isolation.
It brought investigators to the Ohio Avenue home, where Vargas refused to answer and then fled with his family.
He was also convicted of obstructing.
Vargas, who has been free on bail, was taken into custody after the verdict as the now-adult children cried and hugged.
Ginelle Vargas, who agreed to be named publicly, said she felt relief seeing her father taken away in handcuffs.
But the jury indecision in the charges concerning her sister was difficult.
“I do feel he should be retried on those charges,” said the woman, now 21.
“My thing is, just put him away,” she said. “We don’t know what the sentence will be but at least he’s away for a while.”
His sentencing is set for Nov. 8.
A decision had not yet been made about retrying the sexual assault or if a plea may be worked out.


Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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