What to Know
- A vice president at Columbia University, Marcelo Velez, has been charged with allegedly engaging in sex acts with a child under 13 at his New Jersey home, prosecutors said Tuesday
- In a statement to NBC 4, a Columbia University spokesperson said: "We have placed Mr. Velez on administrative leave and will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials investigating this matter." Attorney information for him was not immediately available.
- According to the college's website, Velez has been with the university since 1995; his bio says he has "managed, supervised or otherwise presided over $1 billion worth of capital construction" over the years
The vice president for Manhattanville Development at Columbia University has been arrested on aggravated sex assault and other charges for allegedly engaging in sex acts with a child younger than 13 in New Jersey, officials say.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that Marcelo Velez, identified on Columbia's website as its "point person on all aspects of development, design and construction" for the university's 6.8 million-square-foot campus expansion in West Harlem was taken into custody at his New Jersey home Monday after an investigation.
According to that investigation, Woodcliff Lake Police first learned of allegations the married 55-year-old Velez had engaged in sex acts with the child in Woodcliff Lake Sunday. The Bergen County prosecutor's office was called in to assist with that investigation and now alleges the abuse took place at Velez's home.
Details on his relationship to the child weren't immediately clear, nor was information on an attorney for him immediately available. Velez was remanded to the Bergen County Jail pending his first appearance on charges including sexual assault by sexual contact and child endangerment in addition to the top charge.
In a statement to News 4 New York, a Columbia University spokesperson said: "We have placed Mr. Velez on administrative leave and will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials investigating this matter.”
According to the college's website, Velez has been with the university since 1995 and "held a number of positions with increasing responsibilities." He has been with Columbia's Manhattanville Development Group since 2007, first as associate vice president for project management and construction. Velez took over the vice president role in 2016 and has "managed, supervised or otherwise presided over $1 billion worth of capital construction" over the years, his bio says.
A licensed professional engineer in New York state, Velez has a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Rutgers University and a business degree from Columbia, where he currently serves on the adviser board for the ACE Mentorship Program, Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education’s new master’s degree program in construction administration, and as vice chair of the Greater New York Construction User Council, according to the university website.