"I'm a scapegoat. I didn't hire a rapist. The guy became what he did," Bell said. "Things were kept hush-hush, and it was 'blame Willie Bell.'"

Timoney, who resigned in 2009, is working as a police consultant in Bahrain. He did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

The ex-chief was deposed in the case in March 2011. Attorney Heyer asked if he was satisfied that the department's hiring process, including background checks, was being done appropriately after he became chief. "Yes," Timoney said.

Yet according to the transcript, psychologist Dr. Mark Axelberd, who was hired by the city to evaluate applicants, found Ragusa to have "a problem with impulse control" and classified him borderline. Axelberd had warned that "this is not somebody you'd want to hire," Hunnefeld said.

Bell approved Ragusa even though he had been rejected by numerous other police agencies, including the Broward Sheriff's Office, Miami-Dade, North Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Cooper City, Hunnefeld said. His acknowledgment of past improprieties also should have been caught. "I have never put sexual assaults on my applications," Hunnefeld told commissioners. "However, Michael Ragusa did. How that slips through the fingers of the investigator, I am not sure."

Ragusa went on to do plenty of damage in a three-year career as a Miami police officer. In addition to the rapes, he was involved in numerous allegations of excessive force. "I have so far defended four lawsuits about Ragusa and his excessive force," Hunnefeld said.

All of that information would have made defending the lawsuit impossible. "We're cooked," city attorney Julie Bru said as she presented a recommendation for settlement.

"A case with this set of facts is something that a jury could do very bad things with," Hunnefeld added.

Besides the $550,000 for Perez, the city also paid $62,500 to settle a damage suit filed by another of Ragusa's rape victims. That woman received much less after the city "uncovered that she had been a prostitute and that she had actually done some other things that were difficult."

The topic of how many other borderline candidates were hired by the city was not discussed at the settlement meeting. The city no longer evaluates recruits that way. But the Miami Police Department remains a focus of controversy.

The Miami Herald reported in November that the Justice Department is investigating possible civil rights violations in the deaths of seven black men shot by city officers between July 2010 and February 2011.

Meanwhile, city legal advisor George Wysong informed commissioners that police leaders had a takeaway from their experience with Ragusa. "This case has impressed upon them the significance of — you know, you may think that the background unit is a place to put your problem child. Now they understand the consequences of a little decision like that," Wysong said.

The lesson should come in handy.

One week after agreeing to pay $550,000 to settle with Perez, Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez lifted a two-year freeze on hiring new police officers.

This story was written in cooperation with Broward Bulldog, a not-for-profit online newspaper at browardbulldog.org. Dan Christensen is the editor.

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21 comments
pcl
pcl

What we need for violent offenders in the country is something beyond the "three strikes and you're out" laws. There should also be something like a "5 strikes and you're dead" law, that would allow a thug like Ragusa to be tried for the additional rapes, the 5th of which would lead to his euthanasia (or execution as it is traditionally known). There is no moral justification for keeping someone like this alive, even if he's in a cage for the rest of his life.

Stacey95962173
Stacey95962173

my friend's sister earned $20705 the previous month. she is making income on the internet and got a $409000 home. All she did was get blessed and work up the clues given on this web page ...MakeCash10.com

IMSIMONBIRCH
IMSIMONBIRCH

i DON'T THINK i WANT TO MOVE TO mIAMI AFTER ALL

eYeDEF
eYeDEF

So most the the complaints filed against Willie Bell were drug dealers he says. He knows because it's obvious they were drug dealers he RIPPED OFF and got rich from. I'm sure he's living fat in retirement.

BadDude
BadDude

mmm so bell say that he couldn't find nothing in ragusa background so he hire him, seem this is a lie cause every background goes to the FBI then it will show if he have bad record.

Cynthia Morse
Cynthia Morse

Timoney is now an advisor to "law enforcement" in Bahrain?? Guess what--the Bahrain military -- their law enforcement, the ones that shot to kill when protestors tried to speak to their government during the "Arab Spring," the Baharain army--they spent quality training time with the Oakland Police Department last year. They TRAINED the Oakland Police Department. And it looks like Mr. Timoney was involved in that. This stinks. It is putrid.

BarryEisenberg
BarryEisenberg

Jesus H. Christ! Whadaygonnado? Sue their asses until they're black and blue. If outrage can't get their attention, money will

Musiqmentor
Musiqmentor

Police departments across the US need to implement an effective psych test. Just think, there are more officers just like him still on the force. scary....

occupytruth
occupytruth

When "bad apples" continue to grow year after year its time to look at the tree and the root of the problem ...........city hall

Fiordelano
Fiordelano

No money will make her feel better….And the amount of money offered is so little? How did they come up with this amount? Is this the going rate for rape by a police officer?

http://lazycash1.com/
http://lazycash1.com/

my neighbor's step-sister brought home $20864 a week ago. she has been making cash on the internet and bought a $519900 home. All she did was get lucky and apply the advice exposed on this link>>> "In Comment Header"

Dr.Robert Valenti,APA
Dr.Robert Valenti,APA

When people in authority ,especially police officers,break the law,it becomes extremely difficult to teach children to uphold the law .Those that do should be severely punished with a no tolerance law put in place to remove the rotten apples.

 
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