September 22, 2014

Elyria
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Therapist: Girl changes story

HIV positive man was convicted in 2004 rape and asks for a new trial

ELYRIA — The girl who accused Jose Velez of molesting her recanted her accusation a month after Velez was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms last year, her therapist testified Monday.

Velez

Barbara Maher said the girl, who was 5 when she was raped in 2004, told her during an August 2006 therapy session that she felt guilty about what she had done to Velez, who was convicted of rape, gross sexual imposition and felonious assault and kidnapping.

Velez, who is HIV positive and was when the girl was assaulted, has asked county Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski, who found him guilty, for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. Betleski has not made a decision on the request.

“She appeared to feel genuine guilt. She kept calling herself a liar,” Maher said. “She felt very bad about what she did.”

Maher said the girl told her that her grandmother had promised her toys and other rewards if she would implicate Velez instead of her grandfather, whom the girl said was the one who actually touched her.

Assistant County Prosecutor Tom Cahill has argued against granting Velez, 36, a new trial.

“He was convicted of felonious assault for having sexual relations with a minor child while HIV positive,” he said.

Cahill suggested that the girl, her mother and her grandmother all take lie-detector tests to prove their story, something Betleski said he wasn’t going to order.

Laura Perkovic, Velez’s attorney, said her client deserves another trial if the girl told Maher the truth.

“If indeed there is a chance this child recanted and it’s genuine, it definitely deserves another look,” she said after the hearing.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said investigators reviewed the girl’s statements and don’t believe there’s enough there to justify a new trial.

Velez, who was in prison from 1989 through 1998 for a prior attempted rape conviction, also was convicted of felonious assault on a 13-year-old girl during his trial last year. He has been classified as a sexual predator.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.