By Mark Hallum
ELMHURST — A Middle Village man has been convicted in absentia of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl as she walked to school in Elmhurst in June 2016 as well as endangering the welfare of a child, the Queens district attorney said.
After a weeklong trial in Queens Supreme Court, Jose Para, 37, of 83rd Place was absent for his own conviction, but attended the trial in which the jury found him guilty on April 27, according to DA Richard Brown.
Para, who was out on bail, fled the court house during jury deliberations, the DA said. He was missing from the courtroom as Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter issued a bench warrant for the defendant for failing to show up to hear the verdict at his own trial, Brown said.
The DA said Para faces “a considerable amount of time” in prison.
“A child walking to school in broad daylight should never have to worry about a stranger approaching and touching her inappropriately,” he said. “A jury weighed the evidence and found the defendant guilty of violating this young victim.”
According to Brown, Para approached his young victim as she walked to school down Albion Avenue and began attempting to strike up a conversation, asking questions about her name, age, where she lived and what school she attended.
Para began making comments about the girl’s shirt and suddenly grabbed her right breast.
The victim ran to school and told the staff about the stranger touching her, according to trial testimony.
— Mark Hallum