MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Hialeah police sergeant who was arrested by the FBI is facing serious charges after being accused of sexually assaulting and threatening four girls and women while he was on duty.
Sgt. Jesús Menocal Jr. appeared before a Miami federal court judge Friday afternoon where he was charged with 2 counts of deprivation of victims’ rights under the color of law dating back to 2015. He is facing life behind bars on one charge and 10 years on the other.
The judge set his bond at $250,000 and he was ordered to surrender his passport and weapons and have no contact with any witnesses or alleged victims.
Another hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday.
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.
One of the alleged victims is a woman who spoke to CBS4 last month.
“I feel angry, confused. I just know that when I left the Hialeah police station I left all my dignity behind.”
“The Chief was saying it seemed like a joke.”
Menocal’s family members were not saying anything as CBS4 reporter Peter D’Oench tried to talk to them after a court hearing.
One of the accusers, who is now 21, said nothing was done when she first reported the charges. She filed a civil lawsuit against the police department and Sgt. Menocal.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office investigated the woman’s accusations when she first reported them.
However, in a 2016 closeout 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.”
On Friday afternoon, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released a statement, which in part read:
“I am glad that the information and investigative materials we provided to DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in 2016 helped lead to today’s Federal criminal civil rights charges filed against Jesus “Jesse” Menocal, Jr. This was a very challenging fact scenario when we first reviewed it. At the time, we did not have sufficient evidence to ethically file state sexual assault charges. However, we did not give up on this matter. Recognizing that Federal Civil Rights charges might be viable, we referred this matter to the DOJ for further investigation in 2016.”
“I commend the FBI for successfully gathering enough evidence to make these Civil Rights charges possible.”
Menocal was allowed to return to desk duty and the police chief defended that decision saying he had been cooperating with the FBI and those investigating.
Later, three other girls and women came forward also claiming he abused them including a 14-year-old girl who said he forced her to perform oral sex on him. A woman also said he handcuffed her and sexually assaulted her while masturbating in his police truck, according to law enforcement public records obtained by the Miami Herald.
A mother of one of the women, “Barbara,” said she was relieved when told of the arrest.
“I am very happy that that person has been arrested. He is not going to be able to do any harm now to any other woman,” she said. “He was taking advantage of people because of the uniform he wears.”
Faced with mounting pressure to answer questions about Menocal, last month Hialeah’s police Chief Sergio Velazquez announced that a federal Department of Justice probe was underway and that there was an internal affairs investigation into the allegations against Menocal.
Menocal has denied any wrongdoing.
Menocal Jr. is the son of former Sweetwater Police Chief Jesus Menocal who retired in 2015.
The Hialeah police chief said Menocal would be terminated.
Menocal’s wife and father would have to co-sign on an agreement and pay 10 percent of that for him to be released.
His attorney Michael Grieco said he would need 72 hours to make all the financial arrangements.
One of his accusers said, “He needs to serve time behind bars. He needs to go to jail.”