A Miami Beach commissioner who accused a political candidate of exposing himself to her is now being sued for defamation.
Rafael Velasquez on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, alleging that the city commissioner invented a claim that he showed her his penis and tried to force her to touch it while the two were alone in a car last October. Rosen Gonzalez made up the story in order to capitalize on the national #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse, Velasquez alleges.
"I will not rest until she is held accountable for her vile actions," Velasquez said in a statement, calling the allegations a "slap in the face to every true victim of sexual assault."
Velasquez is seeking $5 million in damages. Rosen Gonzalez referred a reporter to her attorney, who said he hadn't yet seen the complaint.
"This is why women who are sexually harassed and exposed to such god-awful behavior don’t come forward," said attorney Kent Harrison Robbins.
Currently a Democratic candidate to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congress, Rosen Gonzalez went public with the allegations against Velasquez as he was campaigning to win a seat on the City Commission last year. She'd been helping his efforts, and said she waited several weeks to talk about the incident because she worried about backlash.
Rosen Gonzalez, a divorced mother of three, first went to the media. Then she filed a police report, sparking dueling criminal investigations into whether Velasquez had committed battery — and whether Rosen Gonzalez had filed a false police report. Police and prosecutors closed both cases without filing charges, saying there wasn't enough evidence to prove either case.
Velasquez, who is married and has two children, lost the election. He apologized for making "inappropriate comments" to two women who quickly emerged after Rosen Gonzalez went public and accused Velasquez of inappropriate comments and, in one case, touching. But Velasquez has always denied groping anyone, or exposing himself to Rosen Gonzalez.
In his lawsuit, Velasquez says Rosen Gonzalez's allegations have ruined his family life and destroyed his real estate career. His attorney declined to discuss how Velasquez determined he'd suffered millions of dollars in damages as a result.