Today’s news:

S. Ozone Park man gets 5 years in sex abuse case

A 64-year-old South Ozone Park man who tried to buy the silence of the 9-year-old he sexually abused was sentenced Tuesday to five years in jail.

Juan Velez pleaded guilty to second-degree sodomy charges earlier this month after Judge Richard Buchter ruled during jury selection that the jury had to see a pornographic videotape that Velez showed the girl, said Assistant District Attorney Denise Tirino.

Velez, of 103-29 107th St., contended the 9-year-old girl played the tape herself, but the judge did not believe him.

“This is an attempt to shift blame away from himself for his perverted crime,” Buchter said during the sentencing hearing in Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens.

Velez, who also faced attempted rape and sexual abuse charges, could have been sentenced to 25 years in prison if convicted by the jury.

Tirino said the victim’s family was satisfied with the plea.

“The child has been through a lot,” she said, noting that the girl has lived with four different foster families and is only in second grade. The victim is now living with her father, prosecutors said.

“Putting her through a trial of this nature would have been very traumatic. That’s the only reason we agreed to accept the plea,” Tirino said.

Velez was a longtime friend of the victim’s family and was babysitting for the girl when the abuse occurred, the assistant DA said. He offered the victim a $10 bill to keep quiet after he sodomized and attempted to rape her, according to court papers.

But when she picked the victim up from Velez’s house, the girl’s stepmother noticed her T-shirt was not tucked in and her pants button was open. The girl then told her stepmother what had happened, the assistant DA said.

Velez choose not to make a statement to the court and his attorney did not wish to comment on the case.

But the judge had strong words for the sex offender. Speaking in a stern tone, Buchter said he only accepted the plea bargain because of Velez’s advanced age and because he did not want the child, who is now 10, to be put through the trauma of a trial.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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