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Monday, July 09, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor strikes teen girl

A Nixa pastor has been charged with child abuse for allegedly striking a 16-year-old female relative.

Michael A. Vargo, 35, pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Nixa, faces a Class C felony of child abuse, filed by the Christian County prosecutor's office.

The felony complaint alleges Vargo "knowingly inflicted cruel and inhuman punishment" on the teen, yielding "several bruises."

The alleged abuse occurred last month at Vargo's home in Nixa, according to court records.

Christian County Sheriff's Department Det. Brad Cole wrote in his report that the teen called a hotline regarding the alleged abuse.

"Prior to the contact with (the teenager), I contacted school resource deputy Ken Lovell, who gave me a letter written by (the teenager) while at school asking for help from one of her teachers and telling of the abuse."

Cole wrote Vargo was charged and later posted a $7,500 bond. A court hearing is set for 9 a.m. July 25.

Vargo declined to comment on the charge Friday, citing advice from his attorneys.