Ex-Cleveland cop, teacher’s aide who sexually abused boy before joining force gets prison

May 29, 2018

Ex-Cleveland cop, teacher’s aide who sexually abused boy before joining force gets prison

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The mother of the 13-year-old Cleveland schools student sexually abused by a teacher’s aide who went on to join the Cleveland police force minced no words when she faced her son’s abuser in court.

“You are a disgrace to the human race,” the woman read from a written statement at Maria Velez’s sentencing hearing Tuesday. “You are a disgrace to our Hispanic community, and a disgrace to the Cleveland police department that you serve.”

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Brendan Sheehan went on to sentence Velez, 25, to two years behind bars. 

Velez pleaded guilty on April 12 to attempted felonious assault, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and attempted tampering with evidence. 

She also agreed to hand in her badge as part of the plea agreement, and must register as a sex offender every six months for 25 years.

Velez, who was sexually abused herself and conceived a child when she was 14 years old, turned her pain around and inflicted it on someone else, Sheehan said.

“Rather than address the harm it caused you, you chose to act like a virus and contaminate the next generation,” Sheehan said.

Velez, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a Spanish minor from John Carroll University, worked as a bilingual teacher’s aide at Clark Elementary School in 2015 when she developed a relationship with a 13-year-old student.

The boy, who declined to speak in court Tuesday, developed a crush on Velez. But rather than keep a schoolboy’s crush on a teacher’s aide in check, Velez exploited the boy and his feelings and sexually abused him. 

Velez left her job as a teacher’s aide to enter Cleveland’s police academy and joined the force as a patrol officer.

The boy and his mother went to police in September to report the relationship, and detectives in the department’s internal affairs unit launched an investigation.

When Velez learned about the investigation, Velez called the boy and his mother and told them to lie to conceal the misconduct.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Matthew Meyer played a recording of that call in court.

Velez, whose voice was frantic and sounded near tears, asked the boy how he could do this to her, and said that he and his mother were ruining her life. She said she would lose her job and her daughter.

She told the boy to tell investigators that he kissed her, she refused his advances, and he came forward with the allegations against her because he was mad.  

“I need you to be on the same page as me,” she said.

Velez cried in court Tuesday as she apologized to the boy. 

“I know that your loss is much greater than mine,” she said.

To comment on this story, please visit Tuesday’s crime and courts comments page.