Officer fired after sex harassment allegations
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (WSVN) -- A police officer has been fired after a woman came forward, saying the officer allegedly wanted to see her breasts.
Homestead Police officer Juan Senebre, a six-year veteran, was terminated after Zenaida Figueroa-Ortiz came forward, saying he asked to see her breasts, her bra and asked her what color underwear she was wearing after he detained her during a traffic stop.
"When she returned she was nervous, crying," said a friend of the victim, speaking in Spanish, who preferred to remain anonymous. Ortiz was dropped at the anonymous friend's home following the alleged encounter with Senebre. Ortiz then reported the incident days later.
The officer allegedly took the woman into custody for a suspended license but never took her to jail. "When he pulled into an alley, by a two-story apartment building," explained Homestead Police Detective Antonio Aquino at a press conference Wednesday, "he requested to see her breasts, her panties and asked her if she's ever been with an officer, crazy officer, something to that effect."
Homestead Police Internal Affairs said the incident happened last December. Following a six-month investigation, Senebre was fired, but his termination was for violating procedures, not for anything sexual in nature. "The facts revealed that he in fact ran her information in the DAVID [Driver And Vehicle Information Database]," Aquino said, "which is a system within our law enforcement that gives information on drivers license and information on an individual, and he was supposedly at another police call."
Police reported the allegations of the sexual improprieties to the State Attorney's Office who referred the case back to Homestead Police. The investigation is now closed, and Ortiz, according to her friend, has since moved to Massachusetts. "She left Miami, sold her car, all out of fear. Her life changed," said the friend and former co-worker.
Juan Senebre's Attorney, Teri Guttman Valdes, said her client denies doing anything inappropriate. She released the following statement: "My client denies the allegations, stands by his sworn statement rendered during the investigation and will present his case at a hearing before a neutral arbitrator where he hopes to be vindicated based on discrepancies with the complainant's and witness' statements."
The Homestead Police Department is already dealing with another investigation involving several officers. Last week, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office released surveillance video of an off-duty Homestead sergeant who reportedly attacked a 70-year-old man outside a bar frequented by migrant workers.
The video also showed the sergeant as he pepper-sprayed another man, who didn't appear to pose a threat. Two other officers are also under investigation.
As for this latest scandal, though no longer with Homestead Police, Senebre remains a police officer, and only the Florida Department of Law Enforcement can strip him of that title. They are conducting their own investigation.
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