February 4th, 2013
04:07 PM ET
2 years ago

Woman denies being a prostitute, meeting Menendez

(CNN) – A woman accused of being a prostitute involved with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez denied those claims in a Spanish-language interview released Monday.

The woman, identified as 21-year-old Yaneisi Fernandez, says she's never met Menendez or worked as a prostitute.

"I've never participated in those activities, I don't know those people or that man," Fernandez told Univision.

Menendez is battling allegations of improper travel and parties with prostitutes, claims he's vehemently denied. He's been in the spotlight as scrutiny escalates over his relationship with a generous donor whose plane he took to the Dominican Republic and who has business ties in the Caribbean nation.

The scandal first emerged shortly before Election Day last fall, when a conservative online publication cited three unidentified sources who claimed the senator had flown on private planes to the Caribbean and during the trips had sex parties with prostitutes.

The latest allegations are based on documents published by a non-partisan Washington watchdog group – Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, known as CREW. The group published an e-mail this week it received last April from a man who identified himself as Peter Williams.

"My duty as a U.S. citizen obligates me to report what I consider to be a grave violation of the most fundamental codes of conduct that a politician of my country must follow," the tipster wrote.

E-mails sent by Williams included statements from women detailing what they said were sex parties in a house and on a yacht in the Dominican Republic owned by Dr. Salomon Melgen, a south Florida ophthalmologist.

Williams suggested that he and the women "will be willing to testify" about the allegations if their safety was guaranteed.

The documents released by CREW identify Yaneisi Fernandez as one of the prostitutes connected to Menendez, allegations she told Univision were completely false.

"No, that is completely false. I don't even know that man. Not even through TV have I seen him," she said. CNN is not able to verify Fernandez's story.

A translation of the Univision interview with Fernandez was e-mailed to reporters by staffers in Menendez's Senate office. The translation was confirmed to be accurate by CNN.

An official working for Menendez told CNN the video "is pretty damning to those who continue to peddle 'Pete Williams" allegations and all this garbage."

"Real people get hurt," the official said.

CNN's Jim Acosta, Adriana Hauser, Alan Duke and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Robert Menendez • Senate
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. GOP = Greed Over People

    Perhaps, this will be the last time CNN will report gossip proprogated by a right wing website, "quoting unidentified sources" as news?

    February 4, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    No, that is completely false. I don't even know that man. Not even through TV have I seen him," she said.
    -------------------------------------------------
    She said as she blinked her way through her 15 minutes of fame.
    Next!
    Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!
    Republicans don't know Latinos very well, and us Dominicans even less.
    Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

    February 4, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. critical thinking

    Me doth think he protest too much..

    February 4, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Rosslaw

    We need to get Sen. David Vitter right on this. Quick, what's Larry Craig's number?

    February 4, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Perhaps, this will be the last time CNN will report gossip proprogated by a right wing website, "quoting unidentified sources" as news?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Not.

    February 4, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Rick

    Seems to me the claim is just gossip, hearsay and dirty politics. Not serious journalism either.

    February 4, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Moose

    More of bammans fodder blogging here, its ok to be a follower, but at least pick a real leader to follow after !!!!

    February 4, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "CNN is not able to verify Fernandez's story."

    CNN is not able to verify Peter Williams' story.

    FIFY

    And that's the entire point. It's just bald accusations without a shred of evidence so far.

    Seems to me that CNN is just mad she's raining on their controversy narrative.

    February 4, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Me doth think he protest too much.."

    Please. Accused falsely of something like this, you'd protest until you ran out of air and passed out. Anyone would. Look, everyone knows these politicians sometimes pull crap like he's accused of...and when proven,nobody disagrees that they should be tarred and feathered for it...but you can't hang a man without evidence. None exists for this yet...just naked allegations and not very credible hearsay.

    February 4, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "CNN is not able to verify Fernandez's story."

    What exactly HAS CNN been able to verify?

    February 4, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. apgwydion

    " Quick, what's Larry Craig's number?" Third stall on the Right...

    February 4, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. mm

    Not to condone anything here....but this reeks of a set up...

    How many more set ups are being 'arranged' out there for congressional members? And why the heck don't they just do their jobs and not spend time and our tax dollars setting up garbage like this?

    February 4, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. TPalin

    what happened to all the right wing nuts that were here yesterday, the lynch mob from Faux news??? LOL Innocent til proven guilty..... baggers

    February 4, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. Pat from Texas

    Another attempt by the GOP to distract us from the real problems. They should be tried for treason as much as they block all serious attempts to move this country forward.

    February 4, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. Hawk

    Knowledge of Menendez is minimal, thus I can't be accused of being a supporter. This entire story seemed "off" from the start. The so-called whistle blower based his own claim to fame on gossip, or he created this out of some personal/political agenda. Perhaps he should be investigated and those findings published so he, too, can be tried in the court of public opinion. News agencies are far too anxious to jump on the kinds of stories that were once featured only in market tabloids.

    February 4, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. FOX NEWS: The Dung Beetle of Journalism.

    And to think, I remember the day when facts were verified before publication and if NOT verified the story was not published. Now, it appears to be part of the story along with slandering innocent folks involved.

    Oh my.

    February 4, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda/Minnesota

    "CNN is not able to verify Fernandez's story."

    What exactly HAS CNN been able to verify?
    -------------------------------------------------
    In the vernacular of the day: Oh, snap!!!
    ROFLMDominicanAO!!!!!!

    February 4, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. Robert Austin

    This is all based on an email? Wow, how gullible can you get? Way to go right wingers, you have been lying so much over the past 12 years that you are starting to believe tham yourselves.

    February 4, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. nothing new here

    Shameful, but like my name says "nothing new here".
    Move along, nothing to see here.

    February 4, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "CNN is not able to verify Fernandez's story."

    CNN is not able to verify Peter Williams' story.
    -------------------------------------------------
    CNN is just not able to verify. Period.

    February 4, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |