The Chef and the "Amigo"

A rape shines a harsh light on life at Palm Beach's oldest country club.

Police officers escorted her to Columbia Hospital, where she was swabbed to provide evidence for a rape kit. They also collected a white men's Hanes T-shirt left on her bed.

Soon, her parents flew down from Maine, and she was allowed to take a few days off. She also received permission to move into her boyfriend Jones' room for the rest of the season.

Melissa testified in a deposition that the day before she was planning to return to work, she met with Scott Lese, general manager of the club, in his office. She said he was concerned by the publicity her attack had received. "You know this was in two newspapers?" he told her.

He reminded her that she had signed a confidentiality agreement, "that the club did not want any [further] media attention regarding this incident and that I should not discuss matters relating to the club with anyone," she later testified. "If I did, I would lose my job."

In court, Lese denied talking to Melissa about the newspaper coverage of her attack. "That's not the way I recall it happening," he testified. Instead, he says, he met with Melissa and her parents to "let them know whatever we could do to help Melissa through this difficult time, we would do." He told them that she could stay and work if she wanted or leave and that he would understand either way.

"I'm very sorry that this happened," he claimed he said. "I try to look at our employees as if they were my own family."

Regardless of how the conversation played out, Melissa kept her job for the rest of the season. But her boyfriend lost his. Jones testified that soon after the assault, he told James Masterson, executive chef at the club, that he was going to alert immigration officials about the illegal immigrants working at the Everglades Club.

Jones claimed Masterson replied, "Do what you have to do at the end of the season, but don't do it now, because we'll all be washing dishes."

Dutifully, Jones kept his mouth shut and thought his job was secure until he got a phone call from Masterson just after the season ended, while he was driving home to Maine for a break. Masterson had promised Jones a summer job alongside him as a sous chef at the Wianno Club, a historic country club in Osterville, Massachusetts. The position would be a promotion for Jones and guaranteed him a better job next year at the Everglades. Or at least, he thought it did.

"I have some bad news," Jones remembered Masterson saying when he called. "I can't have you come to Wianno this summer."

"Why not?" Jones asked.

"Because of recent events," Jones said he was told.

The only event Jones could think of was the assault on his girlfriend.


Meanwhile, in the months leading up to Cardona's June 2007 trial, the details of the case grew cloudy. Cardona's lawyers began to question whether Melissa had identified the wrong man as her attacker.

Forensic analysts at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office did not find any useful DNA evidence in Melissa's rape kit — no semen, no male skin underneath her fingernails. As for the T-shirt found at the crime scene, it was the same style and brand as one the police found in Cardona's room. But Cardona testified that most dishwashers at the Everglades wore white T-shirts — how could they know which one was his?

"A lot of this stuff didn't make sense," his bondswoman Mariles said.

The strongest evidence linking Cardona to the scene came from an unlikely source: a toothbrush left on a table near the bed that Melissa said didn't belong to her. DNA samples from the brush provided an exact match to Cardona's.

Jones later testified that Cardona had a habit of carrying his toothbrush in his back pocket, which Cardona denied. Amezaga suggested that it may have been planted and that some of Cardona's property had disappeared from his room after he was arrested.

Other evidence against Cardona was more compelling. When police arrested him the morning of the attack, a detective noticed "what appeared to be fresh scratch marks" on his neck, according to a probable-cause affidavit. Cops took pictures of the marks, which showed up on his neck and back. Cardona explained that they were due to a nervous habit.

"My neck, I have a habit of scratching myself," he said at the trial. Marks on his back were from working out at the gym, he said. "I do exercises and wear a belt," he testified.

Yet at trial, the prosecutor had Cardona unbutton his shirt and pointed out that there didn't appear to be any scratches on his neck on that most nerve-wracking of days.

Still, Cardona insisted he was innocent. His family cobbled together $30,000 for a private lawyer, and Cardona said he wanted additional DNA testing administered. But even after a judge approved Cardona's request for more tests, his lawyer said they were too expensive, Pineda says. They were never done.

Through it all, Cardona seemed certain that he would be cleared of all charges. He could have easily tried to flee, bondswoman Mariles points out, yet he chose to stay. He didn't even waste time insulting his accuser.

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30 comments
abovethemall
abovethemall

"It is plesant, when the winds are high and dashing the waves about, to watch from the shore the struggles of another"

DDDuane
DDDuane

This sounds like a great club!!!You mean there is still a place that allows Freedom of Association for Whites?The girl is White...The defence should have been: "SHE RAPED THE POOR DEFENSELESS ILLEGAL ALIEN...."

It's really miraculous that the "poor but HONEST equadorian didn't knife herso she didn't report him....

Guest
Guest

Racist shithole and I would'nt spend a dime in a place like this

atosha
atosha

1.How did he get in her room?2.Why didn't she smack him round the head with the lamp shade?3.Rape is rape it has no colour.

Holy ghost
Holy ghost

Yeah, guy's a scuzz no danger. Where he needs to be now.

morgino
morgino

So my mom just fired her mexican maid for stealing....then today she called me because the mexican that she hired to paint her house was stealing my dead grandfathers shit out of her garage......yeah, they are just all hard working salt of the earth people

Scgoodegg
Scgoodegg

Wow. Anyone thiink of Who Killed a Mockingbird ? in this shit. What fucking racists. They're segregated and shit.. This is SUCH bullshit !

susan
susan

That girl is such a damn liar!!!! She probably stole the toothbrush out of that guys room and planted it in her room. Her and her boyfriend planned this bogus rape to sue the club and get money. Her attitude and statements during and following the alleged rape, is not sufficient to the way she acted afterwards. How does she going from calling him a sick fuck while he is raping her to lying in the fetal position crying????? What bullshit. Someone needs to help this innocent man get out of prison and file charges against her for filing a false police report and lying while under oath!!!!!

timm1955
timm1955

the problems with the illegal immigrants is going to come to a head soon. these people come from a DIFFERENT CULTURE. in mexico, rape isn't considered much of a crime. even rape of children. and this moron posting as viva la raza is an example of why they need to go. lying sob. hispanics come here not only to work, but a huge portion of them see coming here as a great opportunity to commit all manner of crimes and if caught, simply make a run for the border, get new i.d and come back in a year or so and start again. they have come to look at americans as gullible and naive. if an american went to a south american country and behaved in a similar manner, breaking numerous laws, they would find themselves in a prison with very inhumane conditions. these people are simply less civilized, and have come to realize that america is truly the land of opportunity. an opportunity to rape, rob, steal, and murder. get rid of ALL of them. "we only want to come here and work" my aching ass.. i hope you democrat super libs are ashamed.

KillAllSpicGarbage
KillAllSpicGarbage

Hispanics are the garbage remnants of the DNA chain. Kill 'em all, Let God sort 'em out. It's not o coincidence that feces and Hispanics are both bown colored. Filthy animals.

Leslie
Leslie

I find it ironic that statements decrying racism are being posted by someone with the username "Viva La Raza" or "Long Live the Race." Clearly the Everglades club is racist. But apparently you are, too.

Viva La Raza
Viva La Raza

Please continue to bring in the illegal immigrants! we are good people not criminals! only racist people accuse

Viva La Raza
Viva La Raza

Please keep hiring the illegal immigrants! we good for America! we not here to commit the crimes. only racist people accuse us!

Roxy
Roxy

It is sad how racial, classist, and sexist barrier stand in the way of justice.

NatTurner
NatTurner

What does a tootbrush with DNA prove if that brush came from his dorm after his arrest? One must assume that police have never ever in the history of America planted evidence...and the fact that the Club protected their reputation like it was prestine 1960 plantation leaves me to believe they would so anything to get this case solved an off the front pages. If the accused insist on more detailed DNA that he must pay for, I will always believe those test prove his innocense!

$10,000 a year per member and the club doesnt even pony up for the 40K test. This makes this case stink to high heaven. A man rots in a jail on circumstantial evidence!

Luba
Luba

The facts are all there: a toothbrush with DNA, a t-shirt, where-a-bouts not established, story changing and the victim's quick and easy identification. As far as the perpetrator's feverish devotion to his religion, used as a ploy of innocense by the his counsel, "religious addiction" comes to mind. As a licensed psychotherapist, that is also a Certified Multiple Addiction Professional, as well as a Certified Sexual Addiction Professional, various religions (especially Catholicism) have certainly seen the negative quality that Carl Jung spoke of, as the shadow/dark side of their leaders. The perpetrator's counsel would be doing this man, and society at large, a service in suggesting that he be placed in a treatment program during his prison term, which is, sadly, highly unlikely. Or to be mandated into treatment upon his release as a sex offender. And since his U.S. citizenship was not identified, deportation may be indicated. As far as the victim, my heart goes out to her! she can also be advised of available treatment. Sadly, many human beings suffer fom all types of traumas in their lifetime. Traumas, such as emotional, sexual and physical, are rampant, unfortunately. The good news is that there are some wonderful psychotherapists that are trained in trauma resolution and PTSD. A good professional would certainly be able to assist a "willing" person in their healing process to transform from victim to empowerment. There are many contemporary tools that are effective in treatment today, such as a "rapid eye movement" modality called EMDR. Finally, as far as "clubs," such as The Everglades in Palm Beach, being exposed for their "crimes to humanity," all I have to say is loud "hooray!!" That this is still exsists in our day and age is mind-blowing! However, sadly, I'm sure there are others that pepper cities in the U.S., as well as all over the world. Now that The Everglades Club in Palm Beach has been exposed as the home to the "faux-elite," I hope that other people in Palm Beach County will take note and stand for the truth. Ignorance breeds prejudice! Case Close. If anyone seeks consultation and/or treatment for any of the disorders that were mentioned, please email or call Luba: loveluba@netzero/#954-701-5822.

Rights4whites
Rights4whites

Why don't you go get fucked in the ass and try to defend yourself? Geez, if you live, you must be guilty...

NOLADarling
NOLADarling

@morgino Maybe you're mom should stop trying to hire people who have little options but to work for slave wages, while expecting them to not try to make up the difference elsewhere. I've hired people of all races to do work for me and find that you wind up paying the same amount one way or another so you might as well pay up front.

Keeley
Keeley

maybe theyre stealing because theyre poor or immoral not because theyre mexican

Belg1986
Belg1986

Your mom sounds like she has money... Maybe she should pay to educate you a little more, as you sound completely ignorant...  

Randy
Randy

"Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project, said he's not questioning whether Melissa was raped, just whether Cardona committed the crime."

You are a complete moron. No one connected with the investigation or the criminal trial doubts the woman was raped. Your ignorant and stupid ranting reflects why sexual assault is vastly under-reported and often difficult to prosecute.I practice criminal law and I've seen how rape victims behave after being raped- from within a few hours of the assault to months later when they testify in court. Just what knowledge and experience do you base your stupid, ignorant, bigoted lie upon?

Hello
Hello

SAME OLD WOMAN-HATING VICTIM-BLAMING BULLSHIT!!!! WHAT DID I EXPECT WHEN I READ AN ARTICLE ABOUT A WOMAN WHO WAS BRUTALIZED AND THE AUTHOR - TOTALLY PREDICTABLY!!!- TURNS IT INTO A SOB STORY ABOUT AN ILLEGAL ALIEN. FUCK ALL OF YOU.

liz2282
liz2282

Wow, the amount of ignorance in the bullshit you spewed all over this page is unbelievable! "Simply less civilized"?! You sound like fucking Hitler. Lastly, while trying to make a point on how supreme your race is, you might want to learn how to write and use correct grammar and spelling, because it's just showing how stupid you actually are.

liz2282
liz2282

"Remnant of the DNA chain"? That doesn't even make sense, you fucking idiot.

jrserna92
jrserna92

@KillAllSpicGarbage go fuck yourself stupid ass gringo. hijo de mil putas. eres una mierda. tell that to a hispanic in the face and see what happens fucking piece of shit.

Mas
Mas

 Your screen name says it all about you.

Belg1986
Belg1986

wow... I'm going to use part of your name to describe you: Garbage. You sound like the remnant of the DNA chain to me... How idiotic are you? What makes me even more disguisted by your stupid comment is that you have the nerve to use the word God... Jackass! 

 
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