The music director of a Jamaica church has been charged with sexually abusing a young girl while giving her private singing and piano lessons at her home.
“Instead of being a role model to all of his students, the defendant is accused of taking advantage of his position as a church choir director to gain access to a young child for his own sexual gratification. These are deeply disturbing allegations that, if proven true, are deserving of severe punishment,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
According to police, 69-year-old Rafael Diaz, music director for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, was arrested at his Forest Hills home on Saturday, Jan. 14.
Published reports indicated that the victim, who was a parishioner and is now 15, told investigators that, when she was 11 and 12 years old, Diaz would use four fingers to touch her diaphragm and fondle her breast over her clothes while making her sing different notes. Diaz also asked the victim if she had started her menstrual cycle and then allegedly put his hand over her clothing on her private parts.
Police say that the abuse took place over the course of two years. It is alleged that after the victim told her father what occurred, he and Diaz had a controlled telephone conversation in which Diaz allegedly admitted that he touched the daughter and that it happened five or six times. It ended when the piano and singing lessons stopped.The victim’s father reported the abuse to the church on Thursday, Jan. 12, after he was made aware of it by the victim.
According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, the church was not aware that Diaz had been hired by victim’s parents to give their child private music lessons at their home. After the victim’s father reported the abuse to the school, Diocesan officials contacted the police and cooperated with the authorities during the investigation.
Diaz’s employment was terminated upon his arrest.
Diaz is currently being held on a $35,000 bond and has been charged with sexual abuse against a child under 11, sexual abuse, and acting in a manner injurious to a child under 17. If convicted, Diaz faces up to 7 years in prison.
Brown asked that any individuals who believe that they have been victimized by Diaz to call the Queens DA’s Special Victims Bureau at 718-286-6505.