Four year probe into sexual assault allegations against cop, “social influencer” leads to arrest
HIALEAH, FL- He was a police sergeant in Hialeah, a member of the SWAT team, and seemingly highlighted as a social media influencer by Rosco Manufacturing.
Now the FBI has arrested him.
New evidence has come to light regarding a multi-year probe into alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assault allegations lodged against Sergeant Jesús Menocal Jr.
While the new evidence that aided in the arrest hasn’t been specified yet by either the police department or the FBI, there’s criticism being aimed at the police department asserting that they didn’t act fast enough after numerous reports from alleged victims of Menocal’s behavior while enacting his duties.
On Friday morning, FBI agents swept through Hialeah’s police department and detained a decorated officer Sergeant Jesús Menocal Jr., who had endured allegations over the last four years that he had sexually assaulted four girls and women.
Federal prosecutors charged Menocal with breaching two women’s civil rights, one a minor by illegally detaining them and harassing them for sex while employed as a police officer. He is also suspected of using a dangerous weapon, his police-issued firearm to intimidate them.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami alleged that Menocal had forced a minor to undress in front of him “for his own sexual gratification,” and also exposing himself to another victim while “grabbing” her. Both alleged instances happened while he was on duty.
The video above of Sgt. Jesús “Jesse” Menocal Jr. was apparently produced by Rosco Manufacturing, seemingly highlighting him as one of their influencers in “the Barrel Gang”.
After Rosco Manufacturing threatened to sue LET for sharing the video from their page, they subsequently scrubbed it from their YouTube channel and website. The original post from Rosco stated:
“We introduce you to Jessie Menocal Jr. (Menocal International Training) in this short bio in order to give you a bit of background on the Barrel Gang.”
The video still remains on other social media channels, one of which is a public channel that’s shared in the above video.
Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez held a conference announcing that Menocal would be relieved of duty. The minor referred in the charges, Maley Dacosta, now 22, was 17 when Menocal detained her and allegedly forced her into a state of undress, demanding sex.
When hearing about the charges filed, she stated:
“I am relieved that they got him before he was able to bite again. That uniform he wears owes him no respect. … Justice is being served.”
Menocal, 32, recently appeared in a federal court hearing where his bond was set for $250,000.
Both his wife and father, who was a former chief of police in Sweetwater, co-signed the bond leading to the former police sergeant walking out of custody. He’s currently scheduled for an appearance on Wednesday for a formal arraignment hearing.
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A stipulation of his release requires that he must surrender his firearms and concealed weapons permit.
Menocal had endured a previous inquiry by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in 2016, after authorities refused to file charges against him for sexual battery and false imprisonment.
But the public integrity unit of the FBI picked up the case, reflecting on whether he used his position as a police officer to put pressure on girls and women to have sex with him.
While the current charges reflect two victims that the FBI has cited, the internal investigation from the police department and internal affairs looked into complaints lodged by four women in 2015, two of which were referred to in the charges stemming from civil rights violations this week.
One of the 2015 accusers who are not related to the current charges against the former officer was a 14-year-old girl who said Menocal forced her to perform oral sex on him. According to the internal affairs, the young girl at the time said:
“He was a cop and I didn’t want to get in any trouble.”
Another unnamed woman at the time had alleged that Menocal pressured her for sex.
However, the charges revolving around the woman that Menocal allegedly grabbed while exposing himself is linked to a now deceased woman.
The woman, Suzy Betancourt, sadly died months after informing police that Menocal had assaulted her while pleasuring himself in her presence. Miami-Dade Police Department detectives concluded she jumped out of a moving car while intoxicated.
Attorneys Brion Ross and Anthony Narula, representing Betancourt’s family in light of Suzy having passed years ago, made the following statement about the arrest:
“This is the first step in the healing process for our client’s family, who tragically lost the life of their daughter. This family wants nothing but justice for their daughter and the other young women who were affected.
The family hopes that the policing community will work to [address] this problem and that the days of two sets of justice are over, and that the delayed justice by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s failure to fully investigate this case has come to an end.”
Despite an arrest finally taking place, the department and state prosecutors have been coming under fire for not having made an arrest years earlier when they conducted their own investigation without the FBI.
During the 2015 review into Menocal’s conduct, state prosecutors declined to bring charges, saying the victims would not be reliable witnesses in court and that there was no corroborating evidence.
While Menocal was relieved of duty while IA was going through their investigation, he wound up being reinstated before prosecutors formally declined to file any charges. On top of that, Chief Velázquez also gave Menocal a raise.
Still, even though the police department and the state prosecutors have come under fire for their own investigation, they simply didn’t leave it at that. A statement released which showcased that they decided to involve the DOJ shortly after their own investigation:
“This was a very challenging fact scenario when we first reviewed it. At the time, we did not have sufficient evidence to ethically file state sexual assault charges. However, we did not give up on this matter. Recognizing that Federal Civil Rights charges might be viable, we referred this matter to the DOJ for further investigation in 2016.”
Police Chief Velázquez also dispelled that there was some sort of investigative sandbagging or malpractice going on:
“There have been allegations made by certain media outlets claiming a cover-up by myself for this police officer. As evidenced with this arrest, that’s all false allegations. This police department has no tolerance for improper behavior. We hold our members accountable for their actions.”
If convicted of both charges, Menocal could be facing life in prison.
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Published at Mon, 16 Dec 2019 00:32:15 +0000