|Juan De Los Rios|
Yet another officer from Florida who has committed a sex crime. The list is growing.
By Tonya Alanez
Not only did the Miramar police captain order a 15-year-old girl to pull down her pants and underwear to prove she wasn't having sex in the backseat of a car, but with a flashlight in hand he directed her to spread wider so he could get a better look, a prosecutor said in closing arguments Friday.
It took a Broward jury exactly two hours Friday evening to reach a unanimous decision to convict Juan De Los Rios, now retired, of one count of lewd and lascivious conduct for making the girl expose her genitals. They acquitted him of another count that accused him of directing the girl to expose her breasts.
De Los Rios, 47, stood and took the verdict stoically, his hands clasped in front of him. He was immediately handcuffed, fingerprinted and taken to the Main Jail.
De Los Rios faces 15 years in prison at his June 7 sentencing before Broward Circuit Judge Lynn Rosenthal.
The chief of the Miramar Police Department was quick to distance the agency from the now convicted captain, issuing a statement within an hour of the verdict that called De Los Rios' actions "abhorrent" and an aberration within the force.
"I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the victim and those who were affected by this unfortunate incident," Chief Ray Black said. "No member of the department is above the law and any report of such officer abuse of authority will be thoroughly investigated, and if wrongdoing is found, appropriate measures will be taken."
On Jan. 18, 2012, De Los Rios encountered the girl and her boyfriend, 19, making out in the backseat of a car in the parking lot of the Fountains of Miramar on Dykes Road. It was about 2 p.m.
"This was a person of authority saying, 'Drop your pants, spread your legs," prosecutor Adriana Alcalde-Padron said. "He took advantage of his position."
Earlier in the week, the girl, now 16, testified that she was humiliated and intimidated and complied because he was a cop. Her boyfriend's testimony matched hers.
"This is a fantastic tale" concocted to cover up the couple's "illicit relationship," Juan De Los Rios' defense attorney, Alberto Milian said, emphasizing that the couple initially lied about the nature of their relationship and how long they'd known each other.
Milian argued that the girl's boyfriend, Steven Gaynor, should have been prosecuted for engaging in an ongoing sexual relationship with a minor rather than receiving immunity in exchange for his testimony.
But Alcalde-Padron said: "We have to weigh what's more important in this case. This case is not about [the couple's] illegal relationship, this case is about the government abusing its power with this young, vulnerable girl."
De Los Rios retired about a month after his June 2012 arrest.