HIALEAH (CBSMiami) – A Hialeah Police Department SWAT officer is on desk duty while an investigation into sexual abuse claims against him heats up.
Sgt. Jesse Menocal Jr. was investigated in 2015 after a then 17-year-old girl reported he pulled her over during a traffic stop and then took her to a substation where she said he forced her to strip and then sexually abused her.READ MORE: Report: South Florida Counties Have High COVID Levels, Despite CDC Numbers
CBS4’s Joan Murray spoke to the woman, who is now 21, on Friday. She said nothing was done when she first reported the charges.
“The police chief thought it was a joke. That I was a little girl crying rape outside the police station,” she said.
The FBI is now involved in the investigation. The woman said the FBI went to her home earlier this year.
She has also filed a civil lawsuit against the police department and Sgt. Menocal.
Still, it’s painful for her to relive four years later.
“I felt like I lost all my dignity,” she told Murray.
Faced with mounting pressure to answer questions about Menocal, Hialeah’s police chief held a news conference Friday morning.
“I want the public to know, don’t worry, we don’t cover up for officers,” said Chief Sergio Velazquez.
Velazquez said there is a federal Department of Justice probe underway and an internal affairs investigation into the allegations against Menocal.
Menocal denies any wrongdoing.READ MORE: COVID-19 Testing Site Finder
“We have been working this case quite a few years. The allegations are very serious, and we took them as serious allegations,” Velazquez said. “That’s why we are still on the path of finding the final resolution and the truth at the end of this.”
Velazquez added that reports Menocal has gotten a raise are exaggerated. He explained that under union contracts officers receive mandatory increases.
When the now 21-year-old first reported the incident, they investigated. But in a closed out memo,
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office investigated the woman’s accusations when she first reported them.
However, in a 2016 close out memo, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said could not prosecute Menocal because “a criminal charge could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Later, three other women came forward also claiming he abused them.
But again, the state attorney said based on the lack of corroborating evidence “the criminal investigation cannot proceed.”
“Well, there’s similar stories and there’s other girls,” the woman said.
The 21-year-old said nine young women altogether are accusing Menocal of sexual misconduct.
“For years nobody believed me. Now something is happening,” she said.
She believes justice is near.MORE NEWS: Some Jif Peanut Butter Products Linked To Salmonella Cases
“He needs to go to jail. He needs to serve justice. He needs to serve time in jail. Because that’s not okay. He says he puts criminals, right? So he, himself, he should put himself in,” she said.