Hialeah Cop Accused of Sexually Abusing Teen Finally Taken Off Street Duty

A Hialeah Police officer is accused of sexual misconduct.
A Hialeah Police officer is accused of sexual misconduct. City of Hialeah

In 2015, the Hialeah Police Department claimed it had suspended Sgt. Jesus "Jessie" Menocal Jr. and removed him from street patrols after he was accused of kidnapping a 17-year-old girl, driving her to a police building, and forcing her to strip while he pleasured himself in front of her.

As it turns out, New Times later confirmed the department had lied to the public and the media: In reality, Menocal Jr. had not been taken off the street following that incident.

But now — after his accuser, Maley Dacosta, filed a lawsuit against Menocal and the City of Hialeah — New Times has confirmed Menocal Jr. has finally been placed on desk duty in the police department's communications unit.

Reached by phone, Menocal's father, Jesus Menocal Sr., confirmed his son is "working communications" in lieu of patrolling the street.

Staggeringly, the Hialeah Police Department has refused to speak with New Times about Menocal Jr. since last Wednesday. Last week, Hialeah Police spokesman Eddie Rodriguez said that "the chief is not providing any comments at this time" about Menocal's status.

New Times had simply asked whether Menocal Jr. was still assigned to street patrols. The department then ignored numerous follow-up emails and phone calls. An assistant in Chief Sergio Velazquez's office today said a spokesperson was not available to comment further.

In June 2015, a then-anonymous teenager told multiple news outlets she had been sitting in a car with her then-girlfriend when Menocal Jr., then a SWAT officer, blocked the couple's car with his cruiser. She said Menocal Jr. took her driver's license and demanded she get inside his cruiser — and then drove her to a Hialeah Police station. There, she says, Menocal took her into a private room, blocked the door, and demanded she take off her clothing.

Dacosta, now 21 years old, filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last June that repeats many of the same allegations. She said in court filings that Menocal began rubbing himself through his pants while demanding she strip to her underwear. She says he then begged her to strip fully nude. He allegedly asked her to turn around and show her backside. Eventually, she says, she told him she was on her period.

"I thought you wanted to fuck me," Menocal allegedly responded, per the complaint. Dacosta says he then told her he knew where she lived and warned her not to tell anyone about the incident.

One of Dacosta's lawyers today said he could not comment about the case. Neither Menocal nor the City of Hialeah has responded to the claims in court. But the allegations against Menocal Jr. are not unique: In 2015, the Associated Press found that more than 1,000 cops had lost their jobs for sex-abuse incidents in just a six-year period.

Critics have noted that Menocal Sr. is himself a powerful cop who might have helped his son skirt punishment for the alleged incident. Menocal Sr. was previously the chief of the Sweetwater Police Department — in the mid-'80s, was disqualified from becoming a City of Miami cop after news emerged he'd agreed to become a bodyguard for a cocaine trafficker. (He denied those allegations.)

Menocal Sr. eventually took a job in Sweetwater and worked his way up to chief before resigning in 2015. But in 2017, federal investigators charged a slew of Sweetwater cops with stealing iPads, TV sets, and a truck from one man; beating a suspected thief for hours inside a police station; and waterboarding a man for hours until he falsely confessed to a burglary. The FBI's probe reportedly began in 2013 under Menocal Sr.'s predecessor, Chief Roberto Fulgueira, but continued until after Menocal Sr. resigned. The FBI arrested three officers who worked under Menocal Sr. in 2017. (He was not charged in connection with the alleged crimes.)

Similarly, it appears Menocal Jr. skated by for years without any punishment for his own alleged actions in Hialeah. In 2015, former HPD spokesman Carl Zogby — now a Hialeah commissioner — told the media that Menocal Jr. had been suspended amid an internal affairs investigation into the alleged abuse of Dacosta. Zogby told the public that the department had confiscated Menocal Jr.'s gun and towed his police cruiser.

But in 2017, he told New Times that news reports based on his own words were "inaccurate."

"There was no suspension that I'm aware of," he said.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.