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Broward deputy charged with sexual assault on illegal immigrant

FORT LAUDERDALE — A Broward County sheriff's deputy has been accused of sexually assaulting a series of illegal immigrants, the youngest being 17.

Jonathan Bleiweiss, 29, an Eckerd College graduate who worked briefly with the St. Petersburg Police Department, faces 14 counts of sexual battery by someone in a position of authority, false imprisonment and stalking in connection with abusing one victim.

According to the arrest warrant, Bleiweiss is accused of performing oral sex on one man on at least four occasions. He ordered the man to comply or risk deportation, said sheriff's Detective Graciela Benito.

He also is suspected of intimidating at least eight men into performing sex acts with him during on-duty traffic stops in Oakland Park, north of Fort Lauderdale.

More charges are expected, officials said.

Bleiweiss targeted illegal immigrants who feared reprisal and whose culture would discourage them from reporting such an assault, officials said

His targets were men between 17 and 30, mostly Latino and all in the country illegally, Benito said.

She said that on multiple occasions, Bleiweiss stopped a victim, demanded an ID, then sexually abused him when he determined he was undocumented.

Further, he would demand cell phone numbers from victims and pursue them for more liaisons, officials said.

"They said if it had been anybody else, they would have reported the incidents, but it was different because he was a law enforcement officer," Benito said.

Computer records in St. Petersburg show that Bleiweiss worked for the St. Petersburg Police Department for three months, spokesman Bill Proffitt said Tuesday night. He was hired in August 2002 and resigned in November.

"I'm guessing he was hired as a cadet," Proffitt said. "He never obtained officer status."

The investigation began in April, when an attorney contacted the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to say two of his clients claimed to have been assaulted by Bleiweiss.

In March, the South Florida Blade reported that Bleiweiss became the first openly gay deputy to win the Employee of the Year Award for the Oakland Park Division. He earned $61,098 in base pay in 2008.

Information from the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Associated Press and Times staff was used in this report.

Broward deputy charged with sexual assault on illegal immigrant 08/04/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 4, 2009 10:58pm]
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