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Mother charged in ex-cop’s sex assault case

KEENE — The mother of a former part-time Rindge officer charged with sexual assault on a minor is accused of asking a witness in her son’s case to lie to police.

Rosemary Cifrino, 65, of Harrisville is charged with one felony count of tampering with witnesses. Cifrino waived her right to a probable cause hearing at the 8th Circuit Court in Keene on Nov. 14, 2012, and the case has since been bound-over to the Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene.

Cifrino’s son, John Vargas-Cifrino, 35, of Harrisville, is charged with a felony count of attempted aggravated felonious sexual assault and two counts of misdemeanor sexual assault of a girl he knew between the ages of 13 and 16, according to court documents. According to a plea agreement on file at Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene, he is expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges at an upcoming plea and sentencing hearing.

Vargas-Cifrino had reportedly been staying at the victim’s home in Keene for nearly a year at the time the allegations were reported to police. Following the sexual assault charges against him, Vargas-Cifrino moved out of the Keene residence and began staying with his mother in Harrisville, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant for Cifrino.

In the affidavit filed by Keene Det. Jennifer Ramey with the 8th Circuit Court in Keene, Ramey wrote that the victim’s mother told police on Aug. 8, 2012, that Cifrino had stopped by her Keene residence on Aug. 7 to obtain some of Vargas-Cifrino’s personal belongings.

At that time, Cifrino allegedly told the victim’s mother “to ‘lie and not tell anyone’ about what happened to [the victim], involving Vargas and the sexual assault,” according to the affidavit. “Rosemary went on to tell [the victim’s mother] how talking to the police will ruin her son’s career and he will end up killing himself over it.”

Vargas-Cifrino released a statement earlier this month, taking responsibility for his actions in connection with charges of sexual assault on a minor.

“I do not want my behavior to tarnish the honor of law enforcement and the key roles that officers serve in the schools. I hope all will see that this is my mistake alone,” Vargas-Cifrino said in a statement read on Feb. 6 to the Ledger- Transcript by his attorney, Adam Cook of Cook Law Of­fices in Peterborough.

Vargas-Cifrino is facing up to a year in jail as part of a plea agreement filed with the Cheshire County Superior Court on Jan. 17. In the filing, he noted his intent to plead guilty to two misdemeanor sexual assault charges. As a part of a plea deal, according to court records, state prosecutors have agreed to drop the felony sex charge against Vargas-Cifrino.

A plea and sentencing hearing in the case was scheduled for Feb. 8, but was cancelled due to poor weather conditions brought in by that weekend’s Nor’easter.

A new date for the hearing has not yet been set.

Investigators said a Catholic priest first reported the allegations against Vargas-Cifrino, which prompted an internal investigation by Rindge police. On Aug. 6, the matter was turned over to Keene police, who interviewed the alleged victim and her mother. The victim’s mother told police she’d known Vargas-Cifrino for more than 13 years, and that he had been staying at her house in Keene since July 2011, according to court records.

Vargas-Cifrino worked for the Rindge Police Department for 11 years prior to resigning in August 2012, after an investigation into the sexual assault allegations began.

He also worked as a full-time paraprofessional at ConVal High School assisting teachers with children who have behavioral challenges. He resigned on Aug. 15, 2012, just a few days after the school placed him on unpaid leave.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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