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Long IslandSuffolk

Bay Shore man convicted of raping 11-year-old girl

A Bay Shore man was convicted of violent sex crimes against an 11-year-old girl, the Suffolk district attorney said.

A jury Friday convicted Juan Pablo Zelaya, 29, of predatory sexual assault, first-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Zelaya was also found guilty of first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, which is when the suspect engages in at least two sex acts with the child over three or more months, authorities said.

He faces 50 years to life at sentencing on May 21, and if he ever gets out of prison, he will be deported, prosecutors said.

Zelaya, an unemployed immigrant from El Salvador, claimed to be a preacher at a church, authorities said. He victimized the girl from April 2011 through mid-April 2012, prosecutors said.
He was arrested Sept. 13.

"This young girl showed tremendous courage by taking the stand to describe to the jury the awful crimes she endured over the span of one year," District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a statement.

"Her account was compelling, and today's guilty verdict secures a measure of justice that we hope will help her begin to heal."

Zelaya is being held in the Riverhead jail because he also faces a 17-count indictment involving two other girls under the age of 15. One victim was assaulted from October 2011 through April 2012, while the second was assaulted from March through May 2012, authorities said.

The charges are predatory sexual assault against a child, first-degree rape, first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

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