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Hialeah officer under federal investigation 4 years after alleged sexual assault of minors

Hialeah police chief confirms investigation while officer remains on paid leave

HIALEAH, Fla. – Jesus Menocal Jr. is a decorated SWAT team and patrol officer with the Hialeah Police department.

On June 13, 2015, Menocal made a routine traffic stop of then 17-year-old Maylee DaCosta, an arrest report shows.

Surveillance video from an internal investigation showed that Menocal placed DaCosta in the back of his police car without handcuffs and drove her to a Hialeah Police substation.

Instead of leading her to an interrogation room, DaCosta alleged, she was led to Menocal's office, where the officer asked her to remove her pants.

Menocal never reported the activity in his police log or filed any police reports, reports said.

One day later, Menocal was placed on administrative leave and an investigation was launched. An internal investigation showed that on nine separate occasions, Menocal escorted women in similar fashion into his office.

During the course of the investigation, DaCosta and three other girls and women gave sworn statements that Menocal sexually assaulted them. One of those victims was a 14-year-old girl who said Menocal forced her to perform oral sex on him.

After an internal investigation, Menocal was back patrolling the streets a little over one year later and received a pay raise, documents show.

Credibility Concerns of the Victims

State attorneys and internal investigators determined that there was not enough evidence for any of the charges to hold up in court, documents said.

In a document filed by the state attorney in June 2016, DaCosta filed a separate report that she was raped by a former boyfriend after being drugged, she told officers.

No charges were ever filed after toxicology tests showed she was not drugged and her statement provided several inconsistencies.

"Based on a full review of this case after additional information came to my attention, I do not believe I can prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt," the report said. "I spoke (to another state attorney) who agreed that the evidence was insufficient."

A separate document, filed just two months later, stated that the three other young women accusing Menocal of sexual assault provided nearly identical accounts of encounters with the officer.

Cellphone records did not tie Menocal to any established communication with them, and tests showed no DNA from Menocal's office or police car, the report added.

Furthermore, none of the victims could provide anything more than a vague time of the encounters.

It also notes that one of victims died when she jumped from a moving vehicle after an argument with her boyfriend.

Worth noting, however, is that neither document ever indicated that Menocal did not commit the alleged crimes, only that a state attorney did not "feel I could provide this case to the standard required by law."

The entire case has now been handed over to federal investigators.

FBI and Department of Justice Investigation

Roughly four years later, Menocal is under investigation by the FBI and the Department of Justice, Hialeah police chief Sergio Velazquez confirmed Friday.

According to reports, a federal grand jury has subpoenaed the Hialeah Police Department for lists of witnesses and police records, plus officers. 

"We don't cover up for our officers, we do our due diligence under the law," Velazquez added.

Authorities gave no timetable as to when the FBI investigation might wrap up.

DaCosta is also pursuing a civil case against Menocal, investigators said.

Menocal is still active with the police force on paid administrative leave.