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Central Park rape suspect reportedly on probation for a similar attack in South Florida

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David Ovalle

Miami Herald

A South Florida man arrested on allegations of rape at New York City’s Central Park was on probation for an eerily similar attack in Sunny Isles Beach in 2020.

Paulie Velez, 25, was arrested over the weekend, accused of strangling and raping a woman at the iconic park.

Velez attacked a woman from behind near a pond last Thursday, strangling her until she lost consciousnesses, and then raped her, New York media reported. He was arrested early Saturday outside his mother’s home in Queens, reports say, and he was charged with rape and robbery.

Velez had not been shy about his probation in Miami-Dade County — in September, he took to Instagram to show off his monitor in a selfie. “Locked up, they won’t let me out,” he wrote.

According to state records, Velez — who was prosecuted under “Valez” a slightly different spelling of his name — had been on “community control” probation. His supervision was not scheduled to end until Feb. 16, 2031.

Prison records show he was listed as an absconder. On Oct. 26. the Florida Department of Corrections filed an affidavit notifying the court he had violated his probation.

Paulie Velez : Instagram

His Florida conviction stemmed from an attack on Feb. 12, 2020, when Velez attacked a 20-year-old woman in the 200 block of 172nd Street, grabbing her from behind and dragging her into the “dimly lit” bushes off the sidewalk “with the clear intent to sexually batter the victim,” according to a police report.

Velez “demanded the victim to take off her pants multiple times,” according to the arrest report. He kept her in a choke hold and she said “she was in fear for her life and could not breathe at times,” Sunny Isles Beach police said in the report.

But two witnesses interrupted Velez, who claimed he had a gun and said he would “kill them” if they didn’t leave. Sunny Isles Beach police officers soon arrived and Velez ran off, hiding for 75 minutes before he was found hiding in a parking lot.

According to the arrest report, Velez admitted to following the victim off a public bus. He said he’d been angry because he’d been stood up earlier by a friend. “The defendant said that he felt anger and aggression before he walked behind the victim and grabbed her from behind,” the report said.

He acknowledged that “his intention was to rape her,” according to the report, which added Velez “broke down in tears and admitted that he knew what he did was wrong.”

At the time, Velez was arrested on charges of attempted sexual battery, kidnapping, misdemeanor battery and resisting arrest without violence. He awaited trial for nearly a year, before ultimately agreeing to a plea deal that called for extensive treatment and supervision.

Records show the plea deal entailed two years of “community control,” which usually entails a type of house arrest, followed by eight years of probation with an electronic monitor. He also had to complete inpatient mental health treatment at New Hope Corps, a residential treatment center in Homestead. The deal also called for him to be drug tested every two weeks.

The court’s judgment shows he was sentenced to 364 days in jail, with credit for all time he’d served before the plea.

As part of the deal, his charges were amended, and he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, tampering with a victim during the commission of a felony and resisting an officer without violence.

©2021 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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