A grand jury has indicted a Cleveland cop Tuesday on charges of sexual battery and intimidation of a crime victim. This follows news she had sex with a 13-year-old boy. 24-year-old Maria Velez is also facing a charge of evidence tampering in connection with the investigation into her sexploits.
Velez is currently out on $10,000 bond since her October 20th arrest. She is due back in court December 7th. The Cleveland police officer has been suspended from the force without pay following the arrest. She has been with the Cleveland Police Department’s Fifth District patrol unit since her hiring in 2015.
“Like all Americans, Officer Velez is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. A rush to judgement is speculative, not warranted. We trust in our criminal justice system,” Steve Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, told WJW-TV after Velez’s arrest.
Velez is accused of having sexual relations with the teen prior to her short-lived stint with the police department. Velez worked as an instructional aide at Clark Elementary School when the inappropriate relationship began. News reports do not state if the teen was one of Velez’s students. Between the months of March and December Velez molested the teen according to police. She resigned from the school in December to take up work as a police officer.
According to WOIO-TV, Velez worked as a bilingual paraprofessional and was hired in October 2014.
Roseann Canfora, the school district spokeswoman, claims that the district was not made aware of any impropriety on Velez’s part during her employment. Once the allegations did come out, the information was passed on to CPD and Department of Children and Families immediately.
“The allegation did not surface when she was an employee of the district; however when the allegation surfaced recently against the former employee, the information was referred to CPD and the Department of Children and Family Services,” Canfora said in a statement.
After hearing about the pending investigation, Velez is said to have contacted the boy involved and asked him to lie about what happened. She called the boy and tried to talk him into misleading the investigators, according to an arrest warrant filed in the case.
The investigation into Velez began in September 2017 led by the Cleveland Division of Police Integrity Control Section.
If convicted on the charges, Velez faces up to five years for the sexual battery, a third-degree felony, according to Ohio law.
“In Ohio, ‘sexual battery’ includes unwanted sexual conduct or touching. In its most extreme form, it is classified as rape, which occurs when someone compels a victim to engage in sexual intercourse against the victim’s will, and also includes circumstances when the victim is mentally incapable of giving consent to sex (such as being in a coma or having passed out from drug or alcohol use), and statutory rape—when the victim is too young to legally be able to give consent,” according to Monica Steiner of CriminalDefenseLawyer.com.
Could this be the women that Pastor Franklin Raddish of Independent Baptist Ministries speaks of?