Accused of Sexually Assaulting a Rape Victim, Miami Cop Was Fired but Never Charged

Sitting in an unmarked police car in a dark lot outside her Allapattah apartment, Sara was crying and shaking uncontrollably. The dashboard clock glowed 2 a.m. Three weeks earlier, she had called 911 to report that her boyfriend had violently raped her.

Now she was the victim of another sexual assault. But this time her attacker was Miami Police Det. Michel Toro, the lead investigator who had promised to arrest her attacker. As he put a finger inside her and she sobbed, he suddenly stopped and asked if he’d “done anything wrong,” she says.

Sarah decided not to confront him. She had already ignored the creepy texts Toro had been sending for days and the hugs and kisses he had pressured her to accept every time he visited to talk about her rape case.

“I wish I could find the right words to explain how I felt at that moment. It was almost like, I’m aware I’m alive because I can feel myself breathing, but the rest of my body is paralyzed,” Sarah says. “Besides… there was no one else to turn to. So I had to hope that he does what he’s supposed to do, just pull his finger out and do his job.”

But according to Sarah, Toro’s assaults grew only bolder after that first attack February 12, 2016. Over the next two weeks, the detective raped her four more times in her apartment, she says, penetrating her vagina with his penis while on duty and wearing his police-issued gun and radio.

I had to hope that he does what he’s supposed to do, just pull his finger out and do his job.”

When Sarah finally found the clarity to report the detective, MPD’s internal affairs investigators collected DNA, cell-phone records, and surveillance footage that all verified he had regularly had sex with her while he was on duty. By June 2016, IA had found probable cause to believe Toro had broken multiple state laws, including sexual assault and pressuring her into the sex through his power as a detective.

But when investigators took the case to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, her office allowed Toro to quietly resign with no criminal charges. When they reached this agreement — despite hints that Toro’s behavior had been troubling in the past — Sarah’s worst fear was realized: Her boyfriend’s charges were also dropped.

“I tried to hang myself when I learned that [my boyfriend] wouldn’t be charged,” says Sarah, who provided New Times with records verifying an extended stay in a mental health facility after the incident. (New Times is not publishing her real name in keeping with our policy of protecting the identity of sexual assault victims.)

But prosecutors say they had no choice. They paint Sarah as an unreliable accuser. A hospital test performed two days after she said her boyfriend had raped her came back negative, and friends they interviewed cast doubt on her story that he had violently attacked her. Prosecutors say that although Toro clearly had sex with Sarah multiple times, it would have been nearly impossible to prove to a jury that it wasn’t consensual.

“The only evidence available in this matter is the victim’s testimony, however her credibility would be easily attacked by a defense attorney,” Assistant State Attorney Johnette Hardiman wrote in a close-out memo clearing the boyfriend of criminal charges. “The fact that the lead detective in this case took advantage of the victim is reprehensible, but would unfortunately also serve to detract from the victim’s credibility.”

But Toro’s story, which has never before been reported, raises new questions for MPD and Fernandez Rundle, who has never charged an officer with an on-duty killing (though she has charged cops with rape). It also shines a spotlight on the queasy area of police officers having sex with witnesses and victims under the officers’ influence. Though Florida bans cops from engaging in sex with anyone in their custody, the law doesn’t cover cases such as Sarah’s in which a cop has sex with a witness or victim.

For full story visit: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-cop-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-rape-victim-is-fired-but-never-charged-10083811

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5463 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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