Jessie Menocal Jr.’s arrest was a long time coming. Yesterday, the FBI finally took action and carted Menocal Jr. away in handcuffs after seemingly every other law enforcement agency in Miami dropped the ball. Since 2015, at least four women and girls have said Menocal Jr. sexually abused or outright raped them — and despite a clear pattern of allegations, Menocal Jr. remained on the job. Many wondered whether that had anything to do with his powerful, ex-police-chief dad.
Menocal Jr.’s arrest was years in the making. Rumors had swirled for months that the feds were looking to take him into custody. And now, after his arrest on two felony counts of violating women’s civil rights, here’s a timeline of how the case shook out.
The Menocal family is about as well-connected as they come in Miami-Dade County law enforcement circles. Jessie Menocal Sr. tried to become a Miami Police Department officer despite having allegedly agreed in the past to work as a bodyguard for a cocaine trafficker. Menocal Sr.’s brother Ignacio also allegedly had ties to the city’s criminal underworld. Nevertheless, Menocal Sr. wound up getting a job at the nearby Sweetwater Police Department and working his way up to chief. His underlings, of course, were accused of a raft of insane civil-rights violations while he ran the department.
2. A then-anonymous teen went public in 2015 with allegations that Menocal Jr. took her to a Hialeah police substation and forced her to strip while he touched himself.
A then-anonymous 17-year-old girl in 2015 told CBS Miami that Menocal Jr. blocked her car one night, confiscated her ID, and forced her to get into his police cruiser and ride with him to an unspecified location. The building turned out to be a Hialeah police office. In a back room, she says, he blocked her exit, forced her to strip to her underwear, and demanded she have sex with him. She ultimately refused and claimed she was on her period — and says Menocal Jr. told her she’d suffer consequences if she told anyone.
In 2017, then-Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby, who is now a city councilman, told New Times he had no evidence that Menocal Jr. had ever been suspended over the incident. As the Miami Herald later reported, records show Menocal was briefly suspended but then placed right back on the street.
Earlier this year, the now-adult woman who says Menocal Jr. assaulted her at the Hialeah substation sued the city of Hialeah and Menocal Jr. in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Amid rumors that the FBI might also be poking around on the case, New Times confirmed that Menocal Jr. had finally been taken off of the street and placed in the department’s communications bureau — nearly four years after first being publicly accused of kidnapping an underage girl.
5. The Herald reports that far more women and girls had accused Menocal of sexual abuse or rape than had been previously disclosed.
The Herald then obtained Menocal Jr.’s full personnel records — and it turns out four women and girls said Menocal had assaulted or raped them in 2015. One said Menocal forced her to perform oral sex on him when she was just 14, and another sex worker alleged to have been abused by Menocal mysteriously died after speaking to investigators about him. But state prosecutors did nothing to arrest him, and Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velazquez gave him a raise.
Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Johnette Hardiman was assigned to look into the allegations against Menocal Jr. and all-but-immediately claimed his accusers were not credible and that the case would not hold up in court. As it turns out though, the Herald reported that Hardiman never even bothered to interview three of the four accusers and then strangely “lost” the entire Menocal case file after declining to bring charges against him. Despite this, the FBI was able to arrest Menocal yesterday morning.