Schenectady County

Man accused of Balltown Road rape pleads not guilty

The man accused of taking a woman off Balltown Road in Niskayuna and raping her was arraigned this m

The man accused of taking a woman off Balltown Road in Niskayuna and raping her was arraigned this morning on multiple counts, and ordered held without bail.

Abel Melendez, 22, of 1097 Dean St., was indicted earlier this month on one count of first-degree rape, a high-level felony that carries up to 25 years in state prison upon conviction.

Melendez was also indicted on a burglary and attempted burglary count, accused of breaking into a shed, and trying to break into a woman’s apartment in Schenectady, authorities have said.

Melendez appeared in court this morning with his attorney in the rape case, Kent Gebert. Melendez pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He is represented by attorney Sven Paul in the earlier burglary case.

Melendez had been held on $200,000 bail since shortly after his April 29 arrest in the rape case.

Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago, who presided over this morning’s arraignment, ordered Melendez held without bail, pending a formal bail application to the court.

Prosecuting the case is Christina Tremante-Pelham.

In the rape case, Melendez is accused of pulling the woman off Balltown Road just south of Nott Street, as she walked at about 2:30 a.m. Oct. 16.

The victim told police her attacker was riding a bicycle and that he spoke with her for a few minutes. He then got off the bicycle, grabbed her and pushed her between two buildings, assaulted her and took her cellphone. She walked to her home and called police from there.

It was the woman’s cellphone that ultimately helped lead police to Melendez, Tremante-Pelham has said.

Authorities believe it was the attacker who made a call on the phone shortly after the incident. The phone number was recorded on the woman’s cellphone records.

In the burglary cases, Melendez was charged in February with an attempted burglary in Schenectady, prosecutors have said. Melendez is accused in that case of trying to break into a woman’s Central State Street neighborhood apartment Oct. 28.

The burglar never encountered the resident and fled after failing to get in. Fingerprints left on an opened window led to Melendez in that case, the prosecutor in that case has said.

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