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New Hyde Park man charged with attempting to pay underage girls for explicit photos, sex acts in Flushing: DA

Jun. 29, 2023 By Zachary Gewelb

A New Hyde Park man has been charged with promoting a sexual performance by a child and other crimes after allegedly paying a 14-year old girl to perform a sex act and take lewd photos/videos of him in a Flushing park as well as trying to pay a 12-year-old girl to take photos of him, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Thursday that 32-year-old James Villarruel, of 270th Street in New Hyde Park, was arraigned on an 11-count complaint charging him with promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child, promoting a sexual performance by a child, felony luring a child, patronizing a person for prostitution in the second degree, forcible touching, public lewdness in the first degree, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, stalking in the fourth degree, sexual abuse in the third degree and harassment in the second degree.

According to the charges, on June 15, Villarruel followed a 12-year-old girl walking home from her middle school on Colden Street in Flushing at approximately 2:30 p.m. when he approached her and asked, “What are you going to get your dad for Father’s Day” and, “Do you have any money.” He proceeded to give the child approximately $90 and told her she was pretty and that he wanted to do a photo shoot with her in nearby Kissena Park.

As they walked toward the park, Villarruel allegedly placed his thumb on the girl’s face. The girl secretively took a photo of Villarruel with her phone and told him she needed to call her mother. The girl held her phone near her chest and Villarruel slapped it out of her hand and told her to swipe through her apps so he could see the phone’s contents, according to the charges. The girl gave the money back to Villarruel, who told her she was pretty and said, “I’ll see you next time.”

Approximately 20 minutes later, Villarruel approached another girl in the same area.

According to the charges, he told the 14-year-old his name was John and asked her to take photos of him with his cell phone in exchange for $40. Villarruel said he wanted to take more photos in a different setting and walked with her to Kissena Park, where they went to an isolated grassy area.

Villarruel allegedly exposed his penis and touched himself before asking the girl to take a photo, Katz said. He also allegedly asked her to lay on top of him with her head facing down on his chest while he took a selfie. He then exposed his penis, placed the girl’s hand on it and instructed her to perform a sexual act as she recorded with his phone, according to Katz. Villarruel also touched the girl’s breast over her clothing and then gave her $60 for taking the photos in the park.

Video surveillance from the area showed Villarruel walking with both victims, who reported the incidents to their family members.

“The actions alleged here are any parent’s worst nightmare,” Katz said. “Fortunately, the children bravely told family members what happened, enabling us to hold the defendant accountable for the disturbing charges against him.”

Queens Criminal Court Judge Maria Gonzalez ordered Villarruel to return to court June 30. If convicted, he faces up to 8 years in prison.

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