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Sheriff's deputy arrested for groping, giving oral sex to illegal immigrants without
Sheriff's deputy arrested for groping, giving oral sex to illegal immigrants without their consent
August 6, 1:48 PM Miami City Guide Examiner Dmitry Rashnitsov
My article from the South Florida Blade newspaper
A 29-year-old openly gay Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy is in jail without bond after his arrest and indictment on 14 counts of sex crimes, stalking and other offenses towards illegal immigrants.
Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss, 29, a seven-year veteran of BSO is accused of five counts of sexual battery in a position of control or authority, four counts of armed false imprisonment, four counts of battery and one count of stalking.
"He searched out his victims and actually sexually battered his victims while he was on duty," BSO Sheriff Al Lamberti said at a news conference Monday. "I can't think of a worse violation of the public trust."
Bleiweiss patrolled a zone in the Oakland Park neighborhood between Andrews Avenue east to Dixie Highway and Oakland Park Boulevard north to N.E. 38 Street,
At least eight men have been identified as victims of Bleiweiss’s. An investigation began in early April, and Bleiweiss was taken off patrol duty and suspended without pay in July. Victims range in age from 17 to 30 years old. The illicit sex acts surfaced when an employer of one of the victims came forward with the allegations.
According to police reports on April 23 at 6 a.m. Bleiweiss stopped an illegal Mexican immigrant at his apartment complex while he was waiting to go to work. The officer placed the man up against his patrol car, patted him down, put his hand in his underwear, grabbed his penis and said, “he had a big one.”
Bleiweiss then told the victim he wanted to perform oral sex on him in his patrol car. The man declined, but Bleiweiss said to him, he wanted to “drink his milk.” Bleiweiss kept persistently asking the man for his cell phone number to meet up later. The man eventually gave it to him for fear of repercussions. In the following days Bleiweiss proceeded to call and text the victim.
According to police reports the same victim encountered Bleiweiss at least five times in the span of two months, where each time the detective would throw him up against his patrol car, grope him, unzip his pants and force the victim to receive oral sex from the officer. Bleiweiss is accused of saying such phrases in Spanish as “quiero tu leche” (I want your milk), “esta grande” (it is big) and “esta bien buena para mi culo” (it is good for my ass).
In the police report an illegal immigrant from El Salvador and two more illegal immigrants from Mexico, including a 17-year-old, describe similar incidents where Bleiweiss would pull them over for a traffic stop, or while they were riding bicycles, and grope them, perform oral sex on them, ask them for their phone numbers and try to arrange encounters in the future.
All the men were afraid to come forward for fear of deportation. During at least one of the incidents, the man asks Bleiweiss to stop the abuse, take them to jail, call immigration or let them go.
"He tarnished the star that he wears and what he did is unconscionable," Lamberti said.
During his first court appearance on Tuesday Bleiweiss's attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, said his client did not commit the crimes he is accused of.
"These are only allegations. I don't believe there is, for a lack of a better term, I don't believe there's any foundation or meat on the bone to these allegations. He didn't do this. They are allegations and we're confident he'll be acquitted in court," Schwartzreich said.
Schwartzreich also brought up the fact that the victims are illegal immigrants.
"Anyone can make an accusation but we need to determine the credibility of the witnesses," he said.
These are allegations the judge did not appreciate.
"I just want to point out from the court's perspective, that whether or not someone is undocumented or not in this country, the court doesn't find them any less credible," Judge John Hurley said.
In March, Bleiweiss had received the 2008 Employee of the Year award for the Oakland Park Division.
According to a story published in the South Florida Blade from March 3, Bleiweiss said early in his police career he worked with a sergeant who would privately make jokes about him and his sexuality, even referring to him once as a “sex offender.”
In that March article, Bleiweiss said gay officers are acceptable to Broward Sheriff’s Office, but he didn’t feel the gay community was trusting of the police.
“I think the gay community’s perception is that the police are not sensitive to their needs and they are treated differently than straight people,” said Bleiweiss. “Gay people actually say to me that I’m homophobic, and that I’m going to discriminate against them because they are gay.”
BSO Commander of Hate Crimes Richard Wierzbicki said he is mortified by the accusations against Bleiweiss, but hopes that one individuals actions are not held against the entire department.
“When on of your own is charged, you just have to take a deep breath and continue on day by day,” Cmdr. Wierzbicki said. “I would not think this would harm our perception in the GLBT community. Since day one Sheriff Lamberti has made an effort to reach out to the GLBT community and will continue to do so.”
Bleiweiss graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in 2002 from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg and recently received his MBA from the University of Phoenix. Previously he had had three sheriff’s internal investigations against him—all involving administrative issues.
The investigation continues. Anyone who may have been victimized by Jonathan Bleiweiss is urged to contact BSO Sex Crimes Detective Graciela Benito at (954) 321-4249.
Exclusive video from the Broward County Courthouse, with the full police report