A Santa Fe man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually assaulting two girls over the course of three years, prosecutors announced.

A judge late Tuesday sentenced Manuel Lopez Vargas, 68, to 30 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault and 15 years in prison for indecency by contact, Assistant District Attorney Colton Turner said. A jury found Vargas guilty of the two counts Friday.

A girl in March 2018 told a school counselor Vargas had been sexually assaulting and molesting her for about three years, Turner said.

The girl told investigators Vargas would abuse her when his wife left the house, Turner said. Vargas and his wife would often care for the girl and her sister.

After investigators began looking into Vargas, the girl’s younger sister also reported sexual abuse, Turner said.

Vargas was initially charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 and indecency with a child by sexual contact, but a jury found him guilty of the lesser-included offense of aggravated sexual assault on the first charge, Turner said.

Vargas will be eligible for parole after serving half of his sentence, Turner said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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