Woman Claims She Could Get No Help After Sexual Assault in Jail Courtyard - NBC 6 South Florida
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Woman Claims She Could Get No Help After Sexual Assault in Jail Courtyard

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    NBC 6 investigates why no one would investigate after a sexual assault in a jail courtyard. (Published Friday, April 24, 2015)

    "Never in my wildest dreams would I think that something could happen to somebody and you couldn't file a police report," Barbara Marquez told us. Marquez says she was the victim of a sexual assault in the courtyard of the Miami Dade Corrections Pre-Trial Detention Center where she was visiting her husband.

    Surveillance cameras were rolling when the South Florida woman says she was sexually assaulted on county property. It's a place teeming with those sworn to protect the public: the Miami-Dade County Correctional Facility next to the criminal courthouse. At the heart of the matter …. it appears a turf hot potato. Which agency has jurisdiction over the jail courtyard? On the street and sidewalk, the City of Miami police told us they are responsible. Inside the jail, Miami-Dade police investigates.

    Barbara Marquez says she stepped outside into the courtyard for a cigarette. She says a man who appeared to be homeless asked her for a cigarette, then gave her a hug and touched her inappropriately.

    "I was like frozen at the moment and when he's coming towards me. He puts his hand directly underneath and it went right in between my legs," Marquez said.

    She says she paused while she told another woman --- not seen on camera --- what had happened. Then she headed inside.

    Carolyn Jensen was also visiting the jail. She said she saw Marquez inside crying.

    “She told me the guy put his hands inside her pants," Jensen said.

    Marquez says corrections officers told her they were calling police and went outside to see if the man was still there. But then Marquez says another corrections officer told her something different.

    "Second time I was told that it should be Miami Dade to respond, that it's their jurisdiction," she stated.

    Marquez says an hour went by and no police officer arrived, so she called 911 herself.

    The jail--although a county facility---has a city of Miami address and that apparently is at the heart of the confusion.

    911 recordings indicate she told the operators at the city of Miami she had been sexually assaulted but it took two calls before a Miami Dade officer arrived.

    Lt. Freddie Cruz is with the city of Miami police department.

    "What I can tell you about this incident is that we did receive the 911 calls and we referred the call to Miami Dade county which was responsible for this call for service," he stated.

    But when a Miami Dade officer showed up at the jail, Marquez says she was told Miami Dade wasn't the police department that should because the courtyard was not their jurisdiction.

    Cruz says this sort of turf confusion is not uncommon." I will give you a perfect example. We have the Marlins stadium. Miami-Dade County is responsible for anything inside and we handle the traffic on the outside," he said.

    When it comes to the jails though, the written agreement between Corrections and Miami Dade Police says "Corrections will promptly notify MDPD of allegations of any felonies and MDPD will investigate."

    After we asked questions, a Miami Dade police officer did go to Marquez's home.

    She says, "The first thing he told me was I want you to be aware that I reviewed the video and it seemed like it was consensual."

    The department apparently continued investigating and presented Marquez with a photo lineup 6 weeks later. She identified Kenneth Washington as her attacker. He was already in jail, charged with battery on another woman and is a registered sex offender.

    Corrections is investigating its officers actions the day Marquez needed help. No one from the Corrections Department would comment on any of this because of the investigation.

    The authorities have not yet said whether they will charge Washington in the Marquez case. He pleaded not guilty to the battery charge.

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