A well-connected police officer from a criminal cop family in South Florida was able to escape sexual assault charges for years before he was finally arrested by the FBI today.
Despite four woman and girls accusing Hialeah police officer Jesus “Jesse” Menocal Jr. of sexual abuse since 2015, including one as young as 14, he was allowed to continue working the streets even while his department was telling the media that he had been stripped of his badge and gun and placed on desk duty. He was even given a raise.
He was not only cleared by his own department, but cleared by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle who is renowned for giving corrupt cops a pass.
Prosecutors claimed the four witnesses would not be reliable because they were gang members with credibility issues, factors that never seem to affect police in court. It was later revealed they did not interview three of the witnesses. The 14-year-old girl was written off as a “bipolar chronic runaway.”
Another witness, Suzy Bentacour, died in November 2015 after falling out of a moving car in an incident her friends find suspicious, according to the Miami Herald. Five months earlier, she filed a complaint against Menocal with internal affairs
But it appears as if his luck may be running out.
According to the Miami Herald:
The veteran police officer had survived an investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in 2016, when prosecutors declined to file sexual battery and false imprisonment charges against him. But the FBI’s public integrity squad took on its own investigation, focusing on whether he used his authority as a police officer to pressure the girls and women into having sex with him.
It is unclear what federal charges Menocal now faces, but it is possible he will be charged with violating the civil rights of the accusers.
Menocal had been relieved of duty in 2015 while Hialeah’s internal affairs investigators probed the allegations and the state attorney’s office considered filing charges. IA detectives discovered that Menocal had brought eight other women into the station without filing reports, a violation of departmental policy.
Ultimately, state prosecutors declined to bring charges, saying the victims would not be reliable witnesses in court and that there was no corroborating evidence. But even before prosecutors formally declined to file any charges, Velázquez reinstated Menocal as a patrol officer. He was also given a raise. Although Velázquez sustained an internal affairs complaint against Menocal, he did not not discipline him.
The Herald investigation determined that the state attorney’s office did not interview three of the four accusers and also lost the case file.
Menocal is the son of a retired police chief who was applying to become a Miami police officer in the 1980s when he was implicated in a cocaine heist along with his twin brother, Ignacio, who was a police officer.
The allegations resurfaced in 2013 when Menocal Sr. was named police chief of the Sweetwater Police Department in Miami-Dade County, a position he had previously held. Menocal took over the department that year after an FBI investigation into several officers led to the retirement of the previous chief.
In a taped conversation with a police informant posing as a drug trafficker, Menocal and his brother discussed plans to steal cocaine from people who had purchased it from the dealer under the guise of a drug stop. The plan was to return the cocaine to the dealer for $10,000 where he would then resell it. At the time, cocaine was going for about $30,000 a kilo.
The cops never went through with the plan, according to an investigation by the Miami Police Department at the time and Menocal went on to be hired at the Sweetwater Police Department where he eventually became police chief.
The Menocal family now run a firearms training school called Menocal International Training.