Univision tracks down supposed Menendez call girl — but was she the right one? [VIDEO]

David Martosko Executive Editor
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The Spanish-language news network Univision took its scalpel to the prostitution charges swirling around Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez on Monday, tracking a young woman named Yaneisi Fernández to her home in the Dominican Republic and determining that she is not a prostitute. But Univision hasn’t given any indication why it chose this particular Yaneisi Fernández.

The Ms. Fernández described in a series of emails that reignited accusations against Menendez in January had a first name spelled “Yaneisy” — with a “y.” And sometimes “Yaneysi.”

Peter Williams, the tipster who gave those emails to The Daily Caller, described her as “a high-class prostitute,” not a small-town college kid who lives with her mother. (RELATED: In Dominican Republic seaside village, a virtual supermarket of sex)

Menendez’s Yaneisy, Williams wrote, “is white, thin, 5.6 feet tall, light eyes, pointed nose, big exciting mouth” — none of which describes the Yaneisi in Univision’s broadcast.

Williams’ collected emails and notes never mention whether Fernández lives in the Dominican Republic. At least one other alleged call girl Williams claimed to have surfaced lives in Miami.

The Daily Caller was able to find 12 separate U.S. directory listings for women named Yaneisi Fernández, spelled one way or another.

On camera, the girl Univision chose said she’s no call girl. Her mother even produced a doctor’s certification to prove it.

“Her mother says that this month she is going to get married,” Univision’s Esperanza Ceballos reported, according to a Daily Caller translation, “and that she is a virgin.” (RELATED: Dominican prostitute says Menendez “likes the youngest and newest girls”)

“Yaneisi Fernandez says that she has never heard the names of either senator Bob Menendez or that of the doctor Salomon Melgen,” Ceballos said.

Melgen is a Florida eye doctor whose private jet has ferried Menendez between New Jersey and the Dominican Republic at least three times, allegedly for alcohol-fueled sex parties.

“My daughter is here at her house and at the university,”  Yaneisi’s mother said, “and returns from there to her house. And the hour she returns is the hour that she should be here.”

“What’s more,” the mother added, referring to Melgen’s ritzy Casa de Campo resort home where many of Menendez’s payfor-play trysts are alleged to have taken place, “she does not know that house in the countryside. She knows nothing of that house in the countryside. This is not the truth.”

“This is completely false,” Yaneisi says. “I don’t know anything, and I didn’t even see it on television.”

Univision has “either a bombshell of a scoop,” wrote Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo on Monday afternoon. “Or it might be the height or irresponsible reporting.”

“Either Univision interviewed an alleged prostitute. Or it spoke to some poor private country girl and asked her if she was a whore. And then it put it on television.”

The liberal government reform group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) was the first to examine, in April 2012, a collection of emailed and handwritten allegations of purported prostitutes who claim Menendez slept with them for money. The organization passed the material to the Department of Justice and the FBI in July.

In its letter to law enforcement, CREW said it had looked online for Dominican girls named Yaneisi Fernández, and found one — the wrong one.

“We found social media profiles for a Yaneisi Fernández in Santo Domingo who seems to be around the right age,” the group wrote, “but in photographs accompanying the profile, the young woman does not necessarily match the physical description Mr. Williams provided (this is, of course, subjective, but the young woman we located did not appear fair-skinned, light-eyed, or particularly thin).”

TheDC has found similar Facebook profiles whose photographs also don’t match the Yaneisi Fernández in Univision’s report.

The network, Caputo noted, never said how it found its girl. It has, however, attracted a reputation for being left-of-center politically, with its chairman once calling Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio “anti-Hispanic” because he declined to support an amnesty plan for illegal immigrants.

Williams’ whistle-blower file, now available online, included Fernández’s phone number, which TheDC has tried calling, unsuccessfully, beginning January 24.

Including the videotaped interviews TheDC conducted in October with two women claiming Sen. Menendez paid them for sex, there are at least six such accounts. (RELATED VIDEO: Women say Menendez paid them for sex in the Dominican Republic)

Two of those written accounts came from women who say they were underage when the sex began.

Univision says it will continue its reporting Monday night.


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