CLEVELAND– A Cleveland patrol officer who used to work as an aide at an elementary school was arrested on Thursday.
Officer Maria K. Velez, 24, was charged with sexual battery.
According to the arrest warrant, Velez was an instructional aide at Clark Elementary School when she engaged in sexual conduct on multiple occasions with a 13-year-old. The alleged crimes happened between March 2015 and December 2015.
The bilingual aide submitted her letter of resignation to Cleveland Metropolitan School District on Dec. 13, 2015.
“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,” a school district spokeswoman said.
The Cleveland Division of Police said the city hired Valez on Dec. 14, 2015.
The arrest warrant also said Velez tried to get the victim to lie to authorities when she discovered she was under investigation in September of this year. That’s when the Cleveland Division of Police Integrity Control Section started its investigation.
Velez was mostly recently assigned to patrols in the fifth district. She will be suspended without pay.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis responded to the arrest Thursday afternoon.
“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,” Loomis said.