Norfolk dad accused of sexually assaulting babysitter appears in court

Robert Vela

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Norfolk father who is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl appeared in court for a bond hearing Tuesday morning.

Robert Vela, 42, was denied bond for a second time after prosecutors described the alleged attack on a 16-year-old babysitter.

According to a commonwealth’s attorney, Vela attacked the victim as she was watching two of his six children inside a home on Norland Circle.

Vela allegedly struck the girl, knocked her down and sexually assaulted her.

The victim reported the incident to police on Nov. 22, claiming that it had happened weeks earlier, on Oct. 26.

During the hearing, Vela’s attorney, Public Defender Caswell Richardson, said that the lapse of time “raises question marks.”

He requested a reasonable bond from the judge, noting Vela’s 20-year career in the Navy.

“He intends to take this to trial and fight this as far as he can, every step of the way,” Richardson said, noting that Vela will plead not guilty.

Prosecutors expressed concern over Vela being a flight risk, noting that the defendant is a native of California. The commonwealth’s attorney also expressed concern for the alleged victim’s safety.

Off-camera, 10 On Your Side spoke to the defendant’s estranged wife, Amy, who sat in during the hearing.

She told 10 On Your Side that she believes her estranged husband is capable of the attack.

Amy also faced felony charges earlier this year for allegedly leaving the couple’s six children home alone. 

Those charges were dropped to misdemeanors and her case is under advisement. She is due back in court next November.

Amy told 10 On Your Side that her children are now living with her. She asked that the family’s privacy be respected on behalf of the innocent children involved.

Robert Vela is due back in court Jan. 14.

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