A former Bellevue man accused of sexually abusing two female relatives plans to make the state prove its case.
Victor J. Veliz, 39, now of Castalia, appeared in Huron County Common Pleas Court for a pre-trial hearing Tuesday. His attorney, Thomas DeBacco, informed Judge Jim Conway his client turned down a plea deal. The trial starts Tuesday; attorneys expect it to last three to 3 1/2 days.
Veliz didn't want to take the deal of being sentenced to 10 years in prison because he didn't commit the offenses, DeBacco said. The defense attorney also said he plans to have two "character witnesses," Veliz's nieces, testify.
"He maintains his innocence on each and every count," DeBacco later told the Reflector.
Veliz faces 32-count indictment, which a Huron County issued secretly and was filed Oct. 4. He is charged with 15 counts of sexual battery, which are second- and third-degree felonies, 11 third-degree felony counts of gross sexual imposition and six charges of rape, a first-degree felony.
If convicted, Veliz faces life in prison.
Bellevue Police Detective Eric Burt investigated the case, which originally went through Bellevue Municipal Court. The defendant's accusers are 14 and 16 years old now. Huron County Children Services interviewed both girls and the detective interviewed the two girls, Veliz and his wife.
Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler has said the sexual offenses happened when one of the girls was younger than 13 and Veliz reportedly had "full sexual conduct" with the older victim. Leffler said Tuesday the state will be presenting video interviews as evidence.
While authorities have said some of the suspected incidents happened as late as September, Burt has said the sexual abuse covered "the past several years." The investigator also said the younger girl accused Veliz of sexually abusing her two years ago and touching her inappropriately while the older girl accused Veliz of raping her multiple times in 2010 at his former Hobson Street home in Bellevue.
Veliz originally was arrested Sept. 21 -- two days after the investigation started -- and later posted a $22,000 bond. He was booked back in the Huron County Jail on Nov. 19 and posted a $100,000 bond later that day after his arraignment.
The suspect is prohibited from having any association with the two girls and from being on any properties where they might be.
The girls and their mother were in court Tuesday. They declined to comment after the hearing.