Not guilty verdict for man accused of child sex abuse

Posted at 10:22 PM, Mar 13, 2013

PROVO, Utah - A jury declared a Lehi man not guilty of sexually abusing four little girls at his family's daycare.

The alleged victims' families are outraged while the defendant, Alfredo Vargas, is relieved.

He could've spent the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

Vargas cried in a Provo courtroom when the jury said he was not guilty on 15 child sex abuse counts.

"This is a client who was truly innocent," said defense attorney Stephen Frazier.

Utah County prosecutors said that from June to November of 2011, Vargas inappropriately touched four girls, even a baby, at the Little Bears Academy, all while his wife was out of the country.

"Little kids don’t make stuff like this up, not that many of them," said mother Alicia Turner.

Her daughter who was two years old at the time of the allegation.

The struggle for prosecutors...some of the alleged victims didn't want to face Vargas at trial. Others took the stand but never actually said Vargas sexually abused them.

"As things progressed we lost one of the victims at the preliminary hearing, she did not disclose. And we lost another victim at trial, she did not disclose,” said prosecutor Craig Johnson.

For Alicia Turner's daughter, "I don’t believe she remembered because of the amount of time that's gone by. I'm glad she didn't remember but unfortunately that didn't help our case as much."

Vargas' lawyer says the prosecution hinged its case not on physical evidence but testimony that lacked credibility.

"Their stories changed at least 50 times and I didn't even count," said Frazier.

Vargas made no comment for the cameras but to attorney Stephen Frazier, "The jury really did the right thing. It was a great verdict. They did what they should have done."

"It's unfortunate that some people will think, 'Oh, he just got off the hook, his attorneys got him off and he's really guilty,' but that’s the nature of society today," said Frazier.

"There are many in this community just as outraged as me. We don’t like he should be able to be around children," said Turner.

Vargas' wife told FOX 13 off-camera this case has ruined her daycare business and her husband's reputation. He’s hoping to restore his name with this not guilty verdict.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Craig Johnson hopes the verdict won't discourage abuse victims in other future cases from coming forward.

Related story:
Former daycare worker stands trial for sex abuse