A 2013 video obtained by the News-Press purportedly shows a high-ranking Fort Myers police officer engage in a sex act during an operation. Nudity, sexual images and utterances have been edited out.
Fort Myers News-Press
Former Fort Myers police Capt. Jay Rodriguez resigned in September 2019 when he was arrested after accusations that a video taken during a prostitution sting in 2013 shows him having sexual contact with a woman at an Asian massage parlor. (Photo: Fort Myers Police Department)
The attorneys for a former Fort Myers police officer accused of official misconduct, perjury and prostitution want the main evidence in the case thrown out.
In a document filed at the Lee County Clerk of Court, attorneys are asking Lee Circuit Judge J. Frank Porter to “limit” an audiovisual recording that is the basis of accusations that Jay Rodriguez had sexual contact with a woman during an undercover operation after paying for her services at an Asian massage parlor in 2013.
The alleged incident appears to have been recorded by a camera on a lanyard around the neck of Rodriguez, a 20-year veteran of the Fort Myers Police Department who had been promoted to captain by the time the recording was released publicly.
Rodriguez was placed on paid administrative leave for about six months until his arrest on Sept. 19, 2019, when he resigned.
Now, more than a year later, the case has stalled as the COVID-19 pandemic halts jury trials and moves hearings to virtual video calls.
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A recently scheduled hearing was pushed to Nov. 19 and, according to a motion to continue the hearing to November, the prosecution and the defense team “believe they can have a resolution to present” prior to the November date.
It’s unclear whether that means a possible plea agreement. Danielle O’Halloran, an attorney for Rodriguez, declined to answer questions. An email and calls to Sarasota-based prosecutor Andrew Van Sickle went unanswered.
The Rodriguez case was turned over to the state attorney’s office in Sarasota after Amira Fox, state attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit in Fort , alerted the governor of a possible conflict of interest because Rodriguez donated to her election campaign.
According to the defense document filed Oct. 9, none of the officers part of the March 14, 2013, operation were aware of a recording of the operation.
Then-Lt. Rebecca Prince testified under oath that no video recording was authorized or approved as part of the operation and “such recording was not a practice of the FMPD in this type of operation.”
In addition to Prince, none of the officers involved in the operation have admitted they knew of the video recording, the document states. No one can testify to how the lanyard was placed on Rodriguez.
Furthermore, the only witness who can testify about knowledge of the recording is Donald Weathers, according to the document. Weathers was once a detective with the Fort Myers Police Department but was fired in 2017 after he lied under oath about a video recording of a confidential informant having sexual contact with a suspected drug dealer during a drug buy.
The lie got him fired from the Fort Myers Police Department and banned from testifying in court for being untrustworthy, landing him on the Brady List. The list is named for the 1963 Supreme Court decision Brady v. Maryland that established prosecutors are required to turn over any exculpatory evidence.
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“Donald Weathers has been deemed to be of such low credibility and character that the State Attorney of the 20th Judicial Circuit has mandated that he not be called as a witness by the State due to their inability to vouch for his credibility,” the document states.
The defense, in its motion, also attacks the state on the grounds that it cannot prove the video was not altered or tampered with.
The video was purportedly taken during a prostitution sting in March 2013 at an Asian massage parlor on Boy Scout Drive that led to the arrest of two women.
The woman who appears on screen with Rodriguez had her record expunged. The second woman was arrested for living off the proceeds of prostitution. The case against her was dropped due to insufficient evidence.
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