New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a longtime Democratic establishment fixture, called the allegations of pedophilia nothing but “lies” from his political opponent.
The Department of Justice said otherwise, and called Menedez’s denial “unsettling.”
Federal prosecutors on Monday revealed “corroborating evidence” that Menedenz engaged in sexual acts with underage girls while in the Dominican Republic.
In 2012, Menendez has been investigated over alleged pedophilia by federal agents. The longtime Democratic leader was indicted in 2015 over corruption charges related to the pedophilia investigation. He was released after a hung jury couldn’t agree on his guilt.
Menendez was “severely admonished” by the Senate Ethics Committee this spring and ordered to repay many “gifts” he took from political donors. Mendenez has fiercely denied the allegations.
Still, rumors of Menedez’s behavior have taken their toll. Lead by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, $3 million in Democratic party funds flooded into New Jersey last week to shore up support for the embattled candidate.
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Face with dipping poll numbers, Menedez’s campaign attacked the rumors of corruption and pedophilia as nothing but political smears.
In Monday’s filing, DOJ attorney’s shot back that the corruption charges “are not tainted by unproven allegations” of pedophilia. Instead, their investigation uncovered “corroborating evidence” of wrongdoing.
“Presented with specific, corroborated allegations that defendants Menendez and Melgen had sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, the Government responsibly and dutifully investigated those serious allegations,” the government states. Dr. Salomon Melgen is a longtime friend and donor to Menendez.
“While those allegations have not resulted in any criminal charges, there can be no question that the Government has an obligation to take such allegations regarding potential harm to minors very seriously, regardless of who the alleged perpetrators may be,” the document reads.
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“The defendants present their case as exceptional because the allegations of underage prostitution are ‘such easily disprovable allegations about something that would hardly be a federal crime even had it been true.’ As an initial matter, it is most certainly a federal crime to leave the country for the purpose of engaging in a commercial sex act with a minor, and the defendants’ suggestion to the contrary is unsettling,” the document continues.
“Furthermore, the defendants’ dismissive treatment of these allegations is troubling,” prosecutors say. “Allegations of human trafficking and underage prostitution must be taken seriously and cannot be dismissed merely because the alleged perpetrator is a United States Senator. Given the nature and seriousness of the allegations, in addition to the corroborating evidence, it would have been irresponsible not to investigate.”