Senator Menendez accused of soliciting underage prostitutes
In an e-mail written nine months ago but published Jan. 31 by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a young Dominican woman claims she slept with 59-year-old Menendez at a number of sex parties organized in the Dominican Republic by his campaign donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen. She claims she had sex with the senator “three times at least” in 2009.
“The first one in February, and then in May and June. I recall his visit in June so well because that month was my 17th birthday,” allegedly wrote the prostitute.
“That senator also likes the youngest and newest girls,” the woman added. “In the beginning he seemed so serious, because he never spoke to anyone, but he is just like the others and has just about the same tastes as the doctor, very refined. I think they were taking us more often to get us checked [medically] because of him.”
Those who translated the letter from Spanish to English say the writing indicates that the woman could be very young and unsophisticated and may indeed have been a minor when she started engaging in sexual intercourse with Menendez.
Since November, Menendez has been suspected of soliciting prostitutes, but the letter from the Dominican girl presents the most detailed allegations so far. The senator on Thursday denied the allegations against him, despite the new evidence. The FBI on Thursday raided the office of Melgen, who also denies the claims.
The Dominican prostitute claims the senator and Dr. Melgen took numerous trips to the Dominican Republic by private plane and then paid multiple prostitutes to attend their organized sex parties. The girl provided detailed descriptions of the pimp and the houses where she slept with the guests. But she also expressed fear of revealing herself.
“The thing that worries me the most is that if they know that I spoke with someone they will find me,” she wrote. CREW released her name, but most media outlets citing the letter have decided to withhold it, since she may have been a minor at the time of her relations with Menendez.
Prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic, but Menendez has heavily condemned the Cuban government for creating economic conditions that led to widespread prostitution.
In a 2009 Senate floor speech – the same year he allegedly slept with the Dominican prostitute – he denounced the Cuban government for failing to address poverty in a country where the average worker was living on an income of less than $1 a day.
“The widespread desperation of families has forced far too many young girls and boys into becoming sex workers, even though defenders of the Revolution constantly cite the elimination of prostitution as one of its supposed accomplishments,” Menendez said. In a separate speech, he criticized a congressman for trying to lift travel restrictions to Cuba, claiming that foreign tourists would take advantage of Cuban women.
But that’s exactly what Menendez may have done himself – except in the Dominican Republic instead of Cuba. The Daily Caller on Friday discovered that Menendez wrote Melgen a check on Jan. 4 to cover the cost of private jet travel to the Dominican Republic. Melgen had long been suspected of providing the senator with free trips, but the senator reimbursed him this month with a $58,500 check for two trips that were taken in 2010. The checks confirm that Mendendez took trips to the Dominican Republic, but may also protect him from legal trouble.
The Senate Ethics Committee only allows senators to accept job-related perks or gifts, including free travel, if they are reported to the committee and approved. Menendez’s check to his campaign donor was written two years after the trips, indicating that recent media coverage about the scandal may have prompted him to do so to prevent legal problems regarding his finances, since he did not report his travels to the committee.
But in wake of a flurry of evidence against him, the senator continues to deny all allegations. After speaking at a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce dinner on Thursday, Menendez ignored reporters who tried to question him after the event.
Menendez and his ex-wife, whom he has two children with, divorced in 2005 – four years before he allegedly began to attend the sex parties.