Prosecutor drops case against man accused of molesting 6-year-old girl

Girl's allegation of molestation isn't enough to file charges, prosecutor says

MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – A 6-year-old girl told her dad, her mom, a counselor, a Department of Children and Families investigator and a Miami-Dade County detective that her friend's father had touched her vagina three times, authorities said. 

The little girl said they were in the pool and she was in her "floatie" when Josef "Jos" Opdeweegh touched her vagina, according to Miami-Dade County Detective Isabel Soto, who saw the forensic interview. 

Lobbyst Ron Book, the girl's family attorney, said "clearly" there was inappropriate touching. Book's daughter Sen. Lauren Book founded Lauren's Kids, which raises awareness about childhood sexual abuse. 

Opdeweegh surrendered Aug. 14 and he was released on a $300,000 bond shortly after. Ben Kuehne was his defense attorney and Laura Guitar, of RBB Communications was his spokesperson. Hurricane Irma delayed the process. Prosecutor Rachel Kipnis wrote an Oct. 26 interoffice memo announcing her decision that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with lewd and lascivious molestation. 

Guitar said "a grave mistake" was made and Opdeweegh was innocent. Book said Kuehne's strategy was to discredit the girl's account. 

"Although there was limited evidence to prove these allegations, the child's disclosure was sufficiently credible for the police to determine there was probable cause to make an arrest," Kipnis wrote in the memo. But despite this, she added there was "insufficient evidence to prove the allegation beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt."

Without physical evidence, surveillance video or witnesses, Kipnis decided she didn't have a case against Opdeweegh, who has nearly two decades of experience as a CEO, chairman and board member of global companies and doesn't have a criminal record. 

"The victim's mother indicated that if the case had been filed, she would not have wanted her daughter to testify about this matter," Kipnis wrote in the memo. The victim's family was "concerned that the defendant and his wife would make life difficult for them and their children."

It all started at a pool birthday party May 31 at the JOYA Apartments near Dadeland Mall. According to Opdeweegh he joined his two children in the pool. The girl's mom was in the restroom. The girl's dad was in a poolside cabana. Soto said a tree was covering the surveillance camera's view. 

About one hour after the party started, the girl ran to her dad to complain about Opdeweegh, and she showed her mother how she remembered Opdeweegh touching her, according to Soto. 

They reported the girl's complaint to the Department of Children and Families and DCF reported the case to the Miami-Dade Police Department's special victims bureau. Coats met with the girl for a forensic interview June 21. Soto determined her "disclosure was sufficiently credible" and there was probable cause to make an arrest. 

Kipnis said he met with the girl's parents, her grandfather and their attorney Sept. 20 to inform them that she would not be filing charges against Opdeweegh. After everything they had gone through, Kipnis said they were "understandably distraught." 

Local 10 News' Liane Morejon, Christian De La Rosa and Erica Racow contributed to this report. 


About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.