A former Pekin man surrendered Tuesday to charges he sexually assaulted a teen-aged girl whom he met through their church.


Daniel Vela Jr., 42, turned what the girl described as a father-daughter relationship that began in early 2015 into a sexual one that November, according to the charges filed last week.


They include three counts of criminal sexual assault of a child aged 13 to 17 and two of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The assault charges are each punishable by up to 15 years in prison, the abuse charges up to seven.


Vela Jr., now of Chicago suburb Homer Glen, posted $5,000 in cash to meet his $50,000 bond for his release during prosecution. He’s next due in court on May 3.


The charges were filed 16 months after the girl’s parental custodian told police she had grown suspicious of the girl’s and Vela Jr.’s growing relationship.


After officers found the girl at his home that day, the woman called Vela Jr., who admitted in a conversation the woman’s sister also heard that he and the girl had sex several times, the first in November 2015, according to a prosecutor’s court affidavit.


The girl told police she grew closer to Vela Jr. after meeting him at the church she attended with her custodian, who let her stay overnight and for occasional longer periods with Vela Jr. and his family, the affidavit stated.


Vela Jr.’s wife said she had separated from him after he admitted sexual contact with the girl, the affidavit stated.

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