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Prosecutors won’t be filing a criminal charge against Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, saying there was no evidence to support an allegation of groping raised by awoman he met on the dating app Tinder.
The woman, who reported a case of inappropriate touching to police last month, declined to meet with Miami-Dade prosecutors to detail her version of events. Arriola did speak to prosecutors, and said there was “some consensual kissing” after dinner but denied touching her under her dress.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, in a report released on Monday, said it could not prove a charge of misdemeanor battery beyond a reasonable doubt.
“There is no physical evidence to prove the allegations, and there are no witnesses to the alleged conduct,” according to the memo by Assistant State Attorney Tim VanderGiesen, the head of the public corruption unit.
Arriola was elected in 2015 to a four-year term as the Group 5 commissioner on the Miami Beach commission. It was his first election to public office. He is the CEO of Inktel Holdings LLC, a call center outsourcing company based in Doral.
The woman is not identified in the report released Monday, and it was unclear if she had a lawyer.
In a statement, Arriola said he “publicly denied the allegations from the very start and did everything in my power to immediately cooperate with the State Attorney’s investigation.” He said his accuser, on the other hand, was “unable to explain glaring factual inconsistencies between her initial statement and the testimony of eye-witnesses.”
The woman initially told police that the date took place on Dec. 15, although she did not report the episode until Jan. 10. That’s when she walked into Miami Beach police headquarters and gave her version of events to detectives.
On the date, they had drinks at the Loews hotel, dinner at Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante and then more drinks at the Bay Club. A witness told investigators the two were “affectionate toward each other” at the Bay Club.
Arriola told prosecutors that the woman wanted to go to Club Liv, the famous nightclub at the Fontainebleau hotel. He said he did not. “Prior to going their separate ways, they were parked in the victim’s car on the side of he road and engaged in some form of intimate contact,” the report said.
“In this case, as in other similar types of cases, the state would not be able to meet that burden because there is not enough evidence to prove that crime” of misdemeanor battery, the report said.
Shortly after the woman made the complaint, Arriola said in a statement that “I felt that she had too much to drink over dinner and she was intoxicated, so I believed that the best thing to do was end the date and go home. She was upset with my decision, but I knew this was the right thing to do. Multiple witnesses who saw us that evening can confirm this sequence of events.”
Arriola said Monday that he felt vindicated.
“I have always contended that these allegations were patently false and were simply an attempt to tarnish my public image,” he said. “We now know that this complaint should have never been filed in the first place.”