Former Cleo Gordon vice principal guilty of molestation

By From page A1 | October 18, 2011

Christopher Vargas

Christopher Vargas

SACRAMENTO — A former Cleo Gordon Elementary School vice principal was found guilty Tuesday of two felony charges of committing lewd acts on a child under the age of 14.

After four days of testimony from prosecution witnesses and an hour-long defense case, it took jurors about an hour to find Christopher J. Vargas, 39, guilty of the sex crimes.

Vargas faces a 23-years-to-life sentence, according to prosecutor Shelly McGill. Before his trial got under way, Vargas turned down a three-year plea deal offered by prosecutors in exchange for his guilty pleas.

Vargas’ defense case relied largely on the testimony of his wife, who said both victims had either changed their stories or changed their minds about what Vargas did to them. McGill told jurors in her closing argument that Vargas had brainwashed his wife.

In March, one boy, 11, said he awakened in his bed and realized Vargas was kneeling next to the bed with his hand on his crotch. The next morning, the boy told his mother, who talked with the boy’s older brother, who described Vargas touching him inappropriately several years earlier when the boy was 11 or 12.

Jurors also heard testimony that McGill labeled “creepy behavior” — about Vargas leering at the boys when they showered with him when camping and Vargas touching them in the crotch area when they wrestled. The younger boy also described what Vargas called “shower study time,” in which Vargas would help the boy with homework while the boy showered.

“He is sexually attracted to boys,” McGill said of Vargas before the verdicts.

Judge Roland L. Candee ordered Vargas back to court Nov. 15 for sentencing. Vargas has been in jail since shortly after his arrest in March.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or at [email protected]

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

Discussion | 39 comments

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  • LenaOctober 18, 2011 - 6:43 pm

    Thank god he got what he deserved!! Let him rot in prison! He did it!! He admited to doing ot to the older one and was accused of it at another school! DISGUSTING PIG!!!

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  • ChristinaOctober 19, 2011 - 9:52 am

    I'm sorry...you said he DID it "Lena"? Well he didn't; at least thats what the boys claim. But of course you know because you were there, right? I don't wish anything bad on anyone, but just remember..."karma"! I feel sorry for you...you've got mental issues because your mom left you, your step mom abused you, your dad molested your step-sister, and then have children with and don't even know who their father is!

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  • The SugarJarOctober 19, 2011 - 10:40 am

    It isn't surprising that the older boy recanted his story. Who wants to Lise their father AND displease their mother? Please please get some appropriate professional counseling for your boys and yourself.

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  • laura barksdaleOctober 18, 2011 - 8:11 pm

    i dont know i think thats kinda fishy to me...i mean when you think about it why didnt the first little boy say something? and why didnt they come out and said something?? theres nothing the kids mentioning that he threatend them... but then again it is fairfield,

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  • Member of the juryOctober 18, 2011 - 9:24 pm

    In response to Laura's remarks, the facts presented to us (the members of the jury) by the prosecution and lack of support by the defense the verdict was decided within 15 minutes. This man needs serious help, and I am sad to say this entire family needs it along with him. The oldest son explained why he held it in and than later tried to say it was not intentional. You mention, there were no threats mentioned that were made to the kids, what does that have to do with anything? The boys looked up to this man and looked at him as a fatherfigure, the threats were commited and acted apon the two separate occasions when he crossed the line and violated the kids. I'm sorry you view this differently than myself and the other 11 jurors.

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  • PinkOctober 19, 2011 - 8:54 am

    I think his forehead needs to be labeled child molester when he is sentenced to the big house. No excuse. Scum bucket. The damage he has done will not be forgotten. Those boys will always have that memory of his "touching". Trust me on this.

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  • ChristinaOctober 19, 2011 - 10:04 am

    My husband is innocent! My older son claims he was just mad about what he thought had happened to his little brother. And my younger son...from day one, his story has been all over the place. It wasn't until he randomly asked me, "If it was a dream, will I get into trouble?" that I questioned whether it happened or not. I do believe my younger son may even have schizophrenia. After researching it online, on webmd.com, out of the positive symptoms, the negative symptoms, and the cognitive symptoms, he has 10 out of 11. He talks to people that aren’t there, he tells stories about things that never happened, and he cannot remember, to save his life, things that have happened. He even makes comments like, "What if I have two lives? What if I have one when I'm sleeping and one when I'm awake" Just last night he said, "What if you guys aren't even real and I just think you are", then he walks off to talk to his imaginary friend "Roger". There was no evidence except from a 12-year-old boy who is sick and that's not sure. What kind of justice is that? Or maybe the jury just wanted to hurray up and get out of there. I did hear their comments in the hallway, "This is such a mess and I'll be glad when it's over".

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  • The SugarJarOctober 19, 2011 - 10:34 am

    Ma'am, if you are who you say you are it would be good if you get yourself and your boys some counseling. Their problems are less likely related to mental illness than they are to the abuse that you don't believe happened. Please do everything you can to support your children. Your husband, nit do much. Your duty to your boys and yourself MUST override any duty, love, or any other belief you gave regarding your husband's lack of guilt. In addition, if you are who you say you are the DR staff should remove your post as these boys have had enough privacy invasion to make a much older person feel "crazy". Please please please support those boys and get your family appropriate professional counseling.

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  • CD BrooksOctober 19, 2011 - 10:51 am

    The Sugar Jar, agreed. Very good and compassionate advice!

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  • ChristinaOctober 19, 2011 - 11:02 am

    Thank you "The Sugar Jar" for not being so quick to judge and compassionate. If there were more people like you in this world, it might not be such an ugly world. I am here for my children. Yesterday when they found out they paniked, they cried, and they wouldn't get out of bed. I hugged them, I did my best to comfort them, and I told them to not loose their faith in God. I'm not sure about the mental illness with my younger son. I never gave it much thought until he started talking to people that aren't there. Thanks again!

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  • Member of the juryOctober 19, 2011 - 11:07 am

    Why didn't you mention the schizophrenia when you were questioned? Only one specific "dream" was mentioned, why you you were questioned. Remember, you were able to find this site ( be careful what you say, your kids can find it too). Please, I repeat- please be there for all of your kids. They need you more than ever.

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  • ChristinaOctober 19, 2011 - 11:13 am

    I wasn't allowed to because he had not been diagnosed. Just the same as when I was asked about if my relationship with my younger son and his father used to be "great" until this incident. Just as I said in court, it has always been up and down. But I was not allowed to mention that it changed when he tried rapping me on April 8, 2011. Also, my kids are restricted to certain websites.

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  • The SugarJarOctober 19, 2011 - 11:31 am

    Christina, please find a way to get professional counseling appropriate to sexual abuse for you and your boys even if you believe your husband is innocent. It is imperative that you and your boys receive compassionate but professional assistance. Don't give up on finding the help your family, minus your husband, now needs. Whether your son is acting out because of abuse that you were unaware of or whether he has other issues you need to pull in that professional help. Maybe start with a phone call to county mental health services and go from there.

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  • AnonymousOctober 19, 2011 - 1:03 pm

    Christina, All of the members of the jury hope you get the help. Your older son said it happened to him, but it was an accident. Once is an accident, twice is not. And why is it that the scenarios were very similar and nobody knew anything about what happened to your older son. Even you stated there were red flags. I implore you to get some psychological help. Your husband has amazing mind control over you. Your younger son is the one that needs to be applauded. God bless.

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  • Member of the juryOctober 19, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    Agreed with anonymous' comments. Please don't take all comments as negative towards you, take them as an outside opinion hoping your kids will be ok (there is nothing more important than family). This was not an easy trial to go through for your (all) kids, your immediate and extended family or the jury.

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  • LilOctober 19, 2011 - 10:25 am

    I feel very sorry for your children. They are without a parent to support them. If your child has schizophrenia, why haven't you gotten him help? Your husband worked with children. I would think that between the two of you, one of you would have realized something was seriously wrong with your younger son and gotten him help. Instead you diagnose him from webmd. If your child is schizophrenic, he needs help. You are either very deep in denial about the harm that your husband has done to your children or you care so little about your children that you would rather do research on line than take them to a doctor. Either way, I feel sorry for your children.

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  • ChristinaOctober 19, 2011 - 10:58 am

    My husband worked as a teacher, an assistant principal, and a camp director; he never studied or knew signs of schizophrenia. My son has always told stories; things no one else has ever heard of. But I never gave it much thought. I thought he dreamt these things and just believed them to be true. It wasn't until he started talking to people that I started looking into it. I am here for my children and do support them. When they found out that their step-dad was found guilty yesterday, they paniked, cried, and wouldn't get out of bed. I was there for them. I hugged them, I tried comforting them. I told them it was going to be ok and to trust in God and His plan. Its funny how people are so quick to judge; is it not?

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  • LilOctober 19, 2011 - 11:18 am

    Instead of taking your son to a qualified doctor, you went to WEBMD to diagnose him. Then you go onto a public website to tell the world. It sounds like you are throwing your son under the bus to protect your husband. It doesn't make you sound like a loving and supportive mother. I would think your husband would have been able to use his years as a teacher, assistant principal and camp director to recognize a serious problem if your son was showing signs of schizophrenia. Wouldn't that be part of those jobs, recognizing a child that might be in trouble or need help? Like if he had a child in his class that talked to himself a lot and made up stories, he would mention that during his parent-teacher conferences as something to be concerned about.

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  • CD BrooksOctober 19, 2011 - 11:32 am

    Ma’am, with all due respect, this is not the proper place to discuss this issue. You should seek qualified counseling as soon as possible. Sadly, you and your children have a very difficult road ahead. The sooner you get started, the sooner the healing process can begin.

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  • The SugarJarOctober 19, 2011 - 10:36 am

    I believe schizophrenia is rare in children. It tends to show in young adulthood.

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  • ChristinaOctober 19, 2011 - 11:35 am

    I did not diagnose my son. I said, I think he "may" have schizophrenia. But even if he does, that does not make him crazy. It means he has a problem that he will get help for. But arguing with a bunch of judgmental people online that I don't even know, will not solve anything. In fact, it probably only makes it worse. I did not come the DR website to comment or to read others' comments. I came on for a completely different reason but then seen the comments and Satan got the best of my faith in my Savior Lord. Therefore, I am sorry you all feel the way you do and I'm more sorry I started arguing about it; please forgive me. God did bless us with the ability to have our own opinions. Thank you all and again I am very sorry I allowed the enemy to get the best of me.

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  • AnonymousNovember 11, 2011 - 12:17 pm

    Wow, you're a sick mother... You were warned before you married Chris, but you were blinded by money. You sacrificed your children for financial security - plain and simple.

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  • The SugarJarOctober 19, 2011 - 11:56 am

    Christina, my husband has schizoaffective disorder (kind of like having schizophrenia and bipolar disorder all rolled up into one) and is sometimes very sick. Sometimes the meds keep him balanced. My first husband, after we broke up, "fell in love" with a 12 year old girl that he was a father figure to. He went to jail. There is no shame in having a mental illness--or in not realizing people around you are sick--even to the point of those people possibly abusing those you are meant to protect. I'm saying these things to you because not everyone is judging you harshly. And because now you know either something happened to your boy(s) or there is another problem. Just so you know, the things you say your boys have said would also be explained by abuse. I have a bad feeling that you may use your faith as the healing instead of using it AND appropriate couseling. Please use your faith but also appropriate counseling. It is possible

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  • T.JOctober 19, 2011 - 12:06 pm

    Christina, I can not talk about your husband due to the fact that I have not followed this story and I do not know him but I can say that maybe you should be the mother you claim to be and get off the computer and start making some phone calls to get your boys an apt. with a professional. Wouldn't that be more productive than posting on here right now?

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  • JWOctober 19, 2011 - 12:10 pm

    Dear Christina, I have been following this story about your husband for a while. I found it haphazardly earlier this year. I was searching for your husband because I grew up with him in the Bay Area and I wanted to see how he was. Much to my shock, the news stories popped up. I was very saddened by the accusations about him and I admit that I am still shocked. I really did not want them to be true. If it is okay with you, I will pray for you and your family. Please try to take care. I can imagine how rough this is for you right now.

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  • ChristinaOctober 19, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    Dear JW. They are not true and thank you for the support. If you would like to talk with me further, please find me on FB. Thank you! Mrs. Vargas

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  • AnonymousOctober 19, 2011 - 1:28 pm

    Christina, This was hard for all of the jury members. As we tried to see the truth and only saw the evidence provide to us. If you had more evidence in regards to this case you should of talked more on the stand. I hope you and your sons get help for this difficult time in your lives.

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  • AnonymousOctober 19, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    Christina, How about not taking an phone calls from your husband or not visiting (like the twice a week that you do) for a month while starting some counseling? I saw and listened to what was being said. It is very sad for all involved. No need to beat yourself up over how you have handled it. Look for the truth and walk away. I will pray for you and your family. I truly beleive the jury made the correct decision.

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  • bOctober 19, 2011 - 1:16 pm

    hope you get all the boy love you deserve in prison.

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  • PinkOctober 19, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    Christina, I was sexually abused as a child. The things you are saying your youngest is doing is what I did. It was a way to escape the things I was unable to change. Back in the 70's there was not help available like there is today. You need to get you and your boys some therapy. Even if your husband is innocent, the psychological trauma has already occured. Please get help if not for yourself but for your boys.

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  • Another Memeber of the JuryOctober 19, 2011 - 6:59 pm

    Christina what is wrong with you?!? PLEASE GET HELP for you and your children. I sat there and listened to what your younger son said, he was EXTERMILY BRAVE from coming forward and telling what happened to him. HE NEVER wavered what he told the Sheriff, the Investigator and while on the stand. When the DA played the jail house visit that you took your son to, I was SICKENED by your husbands perverted flirting with him, I kept waiting for you to yell stop! The jury made the right decision.

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  • Truth FighterOctober 20, 2011 - 10:43 am

    Man Christina you really cannot be that blinded..to think your kids would make something like this up...you really need help for you and your kids....i pray you dont take this sick man back when he gets out of jail!!!! What does he have over you that you would sell out your kids for him...really your kids are mentally sick from his act on them.....if you still see this man you need to be arrested for child endangerment..

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  • ThankfulOctober 20, 2011 - 1:35 pm

    Members of the Jury - THANK YOU - for making the best possible decision you could with the evidence presented to you. Mr. Vargas did do a lot of good in his community and family - but that good is not a license to molest. Hopefully, his wife and her boys will get the help that they need and Mr. Vargas will take responsibility for his actions and get the help he needs. To his wife - I hope that you will use your faith to see the truth and not blame yourself when you over looked the "red-flags". I hope you will forgive yourself and accept the truth, your boys told the truth in their first stories, you youngest is not schizophrenic, he is hurting, scared and trying to cope and you not believing him isn't making it any easier. On God and "judging": John 7:24 Jesus says: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” What Jesus does tell us is not to judge by our own opinions, but instead judge by the word of God, that is what it means to judge righteously. He always encouraged the people to judge. God told Israel to judge the prophets in the Old Testament. He had the true prophets judge the false but the people reacted saying the very same things people are saying today. Your being negative oh you never have anything good to say. In the New Testament we are told to judge prophecy, to discern, to test the spirits and we are told to test ALL things. We are told to do this because it helps keep us away from what is false and evil. The apostle Paul showed us how to judge so there would be no second guesswork. The apostle Paul said, “If anyone preaches another gospel let him be accursed” Would anyone say to Paul's face “your judging.” In 2 Thess. 3:14-15 “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Strong guidelines that many avoid to do today. These are done not to condemn but to bring repentance and restoration.

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  • Member of the juryOctober 20, 2011 - 2:05 pm

    "Thankful"- please don't thank us for this decision that we had to make.Every decision comes with a price. Being a juror doesn't end after the moment the verdict is read, it carries on beyond that. Tuesday night was difficult for many people and many reasons. A personal reason, I slept like crap (I don't know if the dreams, tossing and turning, various thoughts that went through my head were tied to the entire court process then giving a guilty verdict). With that said, this process is hardest on the two boys that looked at up to Chris as a father figure and for support, help, guidance, security, comfort, friendship and love. I'm guessing eventually they will have that in their life again, but the person who tries to care for them and except them for whom they are had an uphill quest in front of him. I know what we did was needed to be done, but Chris, Christina, oldest son, youngest son and the rest of their family have a lot of personal feelings and emotions that need to be focused on and hopefully things become easier to talk about as a family. Everyone please be considerate of the feelings and emotions of this entire family, this is a small world and things travel fast.

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  • disgustedOctober 20, 2011 - 8:03 pm

    Christina, You sold your soul to the devil, so you wouldn't have to work all this time. All the signs were there before you even married him, you choose to ignore them because you finally found someone who would actually be with you. For the first time you actually did the right thing in calling the police when the boys told on him, then you panicked because your "meal ticket" was gone and you might actually have to go to work and support your kids. You tried to convince them it didn't happen. You need to get them real help so the pattern doesn't repeat itself. Stop telling them it didn't happen to them. It was not right and they should know that and actually have their familys support.

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  • ArtimusOctober 20, 2011 - 10:03 pm

    We all are encouraging Christina and her family to get help in this case. What type of help? I am not familiar with the entire case and its details but I have seen similar incidents of this type and right now it sounds like the family has receive an injury that has a wide gapping wound that needs healing. Perhaps by talking about it even on a blog might be good for Christina for she is the adult in charge of bringing her family to heal and hopefully closer. As someone wisely recommended that she should stay away from the person who first caused all this pain. That is the first step in the help process; separate yourself even though you would want to go and visit your man. This man is the cause of the damage and Christina you might be deceived; so separation is very healthy at least for right now for the healing process. Next, go to your Pastor for help or contact your local counseling resources such as Northbay Hospital or even contact your local woman’s battered resources who will help regardless of the circumstances. There are other women who might have had similar incidents who might be able to relate to the possibility of co-dependant personality where there is a brain washing type activity that has taken place over the years. Help yourself Christina so you can help your children and allow healing and leave the man alone at least right now so you can strengthen yourself to think for yourself. Once you are strong and can think independently from your man; then you will know the right decisions that you need to make.

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  • sadOctober 21, 2011 - 7:10 pm

    This trial was extremely disturbing to listen to. My heart goes out to all involved especially to those two precious boys. I hope they get the help they need. This jury did their upmost best to listen and judge this case in a fair manner. With what was presented in court there was no other rational decision that this man was guilty. It is not easy to sit in judgment of others. I am not happy to have to be a part of a decision to place a man in prison but we as adults are suppose to make all children safe. This man did not, bottom line. I pray for this family and also for Mr. Vargas that he receives help and God's forgiveness.

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  • JurorOctober 24, 2011 - 1:19 pm

    This weighed heavy on all of us and yes, the first few days of the jury selection was a mess. The trial itself though was heartbreaking. Men like Vargas prey on families like Christina's who need a helping hand and the fathers of her children are not responsible. The next step is to have the kids taken away from the mom until she can see through her rose colored glasses. I just hope she gets away from him.

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  • Concerned and sickenedOctober 26, 2011 - 12:43 pm

    A huge percentage of children molested recall the incident as "dreamlike" or a dream, which is why they can be hesitant to come forward. Lady, your kids will surely have mentail health problems 1> Their MOTHER failed to protect them from a predator 2> Their MOTHER failed to support them when they had the courage to come forward 3> Their MOTHER chose a pedophile over her own children & then disgustingly labeled the children mentally ill. I Wish CPS would remove the kids from this woman for failure to protect.

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