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Former BPS employee convicted of child rape

A former paraprofessional at the Mario Umana Academy in East Boston was convicted of statutory rape by a Suffolk Superior Court jury on Tuesday, after prosecutors alleged the man repeatedly raped a developmentally disabled boy at the K-8 public school, officials said.

Jose Melendez, 55, was convicted on five counts of aggravated statutory rape of a child under 14 and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 17, the Suffolk district attorney’s office said in a statement Thursday.

Melendez’s victim was in the sixth and seventh grade at the time of the assaults, which he shared with a family member in spite of “significant limitations in his ability to communicate,” prosecutors said.

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Police and the district attorney’s office investigated the allegations, and Melendez was indicted in March 2020, according to the statement.

“It is a tragedy for a child who lives with disabilities to be abused by an individual entrusted with their care and wellbeing. It’s a greater tragedy when that abuse goes unreported,” Hayden said in the statement. “I’m deeply impressed by the survivor in this case, who overcame tremendous challenges to help hold his abuser accountable. The responsibility to create safe schools and communities for our children falls on all of us. Child abuse is more prevalent than any of us would like to acknowledge.”

Melendez’s attorney, Joseph B. Simons, said his client “maintains his innocence” and will appeal the conviction.

“This came as a shock to Mr. Melendez, especially as we don’t believe the evidence at trial supported the conviction,” Simons said in a brief interview.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.