According to Fox News, the vice president of Columbia University was arrested on allegations of “engaging in sexual acts with a child under the age of 13.”
Marcelo Velez, 56-years-old, was charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, two counts of sexual assault by sexual contact, and one count of endangering a child’s welfare. The alleged abuse occurred inside his house in Woodcliff Lake. No further details have been released on the incident.
Velez is Columbia University’s Vice President for Manhattanville Development. Velez started working at Columbia in 1995. He is currently on administrative leave. Velez is being held at Bergen County jail pending his court appearance.
Attorney contributor Laurence Banville has represented numerous victims of sexual abuse in civil lawsuits. We asked Laurence to provide insight into the legal options of victims sexually abused by university employees to help determine their legal rights.
“Across the country, we have seen sexual predators working at universities. These predators use their positions of power to abuse others. Universities must protect patrons by running background checks and implementing security measures to ensure their employees are trustworthy. To ensure safety, universities must provide safety measures. Examples of safety measures that could be implemented include adequate background checks, misconduct reporting systems, security cameras, and more.”
“Victims sexually abused by a university employee should know their legal options. If proper security is not provided, a university may be considered liable in cases of sexual misconduct. Whether the assault is on or off the campus, the university may be held accountable in sexual assault cases due to negligence. An example of negligence is if the university received reports of misconduct but allowed the employee to continue working. Another example is if a university did not implement more security measures following any reports. Victims abused by a university employee should secure the services of an experienced sex abuse lawyer’s services to determine whether their case involves negligence.”