Jessie Menocal Jr.'s arrest was a long time coming. Yesterday the FBI took action and carted the Hialeah cop away in handcuffs after seemingly every other law enforcement agency in Miami dropped the ball. Since 2015, at least four women and girls have said Menocal Jr. sexually abused or raped them — and despite a clear pattern of allegations, he remained on the job. Many observers wondered whether his ability to avoid punishment had anything to do with his powerful ex-police-chief dad.
Release from U.S. Attorney's Office says Menocal is being indicted for two civil-rights violations. pic.twitter.com/25lAc7ALDG— Nicholas Nehamas ???? (@NickNehamas) December 13, 2019
Menocal Jr.'s arrest was years in the making. Rumors had swirled for months that the feds were looking to take him into custody. Now, after his arrest on two felony counts of violating women's civil rights, here's a timeline of how the case shook out:
1. Menocal Jr.'s dad and uncle became cops in the 1980s despite a litany of red flags and links to alleged crime in their pasts. The Menocal family is about as well-connected as they come in Miami-Dade County law enforcement circles. Jessie Menocal Sr. tried to become an officer with the Miami Police Department despite having allegedly agreed in the past to work as a bodyguard for a cocaine trafficker. Menocal Sr.'s brother Ignacio also allegedly had ties to the city's criminal underworld. Nevertheless, Menocal Sr. wound up getting a job with the nearby Sweetwater Police Department and working his way up to chief. His underlings were accused of a raft of insane civil rights violations while he ran the department.
2. A then-anonymous teen went public in 2015 with allegations that Menocal Jr. took her to a police substation and forced her to strip while he touched himself. A then-anonymous 17-year-old in 2015 told CBS 4 that one night, Menocal Jr. blocked her car, confiscated her ID, and forced her into his police cruiser and ride with him to an unspecified location. The place turned out to be a Hialeah Police Department substation. In a backroom, she says, he blocked the exit, forced her to strip to her underwear, and demanded she have sex with him. She refused and claimed she was on her period. She said Menocal Jr. told her she would suffer consequences if she told anyone.
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3. Hialeah PD began lying about the case. In 2017, then-Hialeah PD spokesman Carl Zogby, who is now a city councilman, told New Times he had no evidence Menocal Jr. had ever been suspended over the incident. As the Miami Herald later reported, records show Menocal was briefly suspended but then placed back on the street.
4. New Times reported Menocal was finally placed on desk duty. Earlier this year, the now-adult woman who says Menocal Jr. assaulted her at the Hialeah substation sued him and the City of Hialeah in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Amid rumors the FBI might also be poking around on the case, New Times confirmed Menocal Jr. had finally been taken off of the street and placed in the department's communications bureau — nearly four years after first being publicly accused of kidnapping an underage girl.
5. The Miami Herald reported far more women and girls had accused Menocal of sexual abuse or rape than had been previously disclosed. The Herald then obtained Menocal Jr.'s full personnel records, and it turned out four women and girls said Menocal had assaulted or raped them in 2015. One said Menocal forced her to perform oral sex on him when she was just 14, and a sex worker alleged to have been abused by Menocal mysteriously died after speaking with investigators about him. But state prosecutors did nothing, and Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velazquez gave Menocal a raise.
6. The Herald learned State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's office never interviewed Menocal's alleged victims and then lost the case file. Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Johnette Hardiman was assigned to look into the allegations against Menocal and all but immediately claimed his accusers were not credible and the case would not hold up in court. As it turns out, though, the Herald reported Hardiman never interviewed three of the four accusers and then strangely "lost" the Menocal case file after declining to bring charges against him. Despite this, the FBI arrested Menocal yesterday morning.