"It is plesant, when the winds are high and dashing the waves about, to watch from the shore the struggles of another"
By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
"I never heard him say one thing bad about that girl," says Mariles, who, after posting Cardona's $50,000 bond, became a fierce advocate for him. "He was always like, 'I'm close to God; God is gonna take care of me.' "
But jurors didn't see the man Mariles knew. They saw a man accused of sexual battery who had been swiftly and clearly identified by his victim. A man who kept his eyes down and made conflicting statements on the witness stand. Had he seen Melissa around the club campus? Yes. No. Yes. Was he watching TV in his room or his brother's room? And what about the toothbrush?
On the day he was convicted, Cardona finally showed fear. "He just vomited his guts out," Mariles says. Soon afterward, he was sentenced to 20 years in a state prison, where he sits today.
In February 2008, months after Cardona was convicted, Melissa was still looking for justice. She filed a civil suit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court accusing the Everglades Club of negligence. Her complaint alleged that the Everglades hired illegal immigrants without checking their criminal backgrounds, did not provide proper security, and had segregation policies that bred "hostility among races" that "leads to hatred; this hatred, in turn, leads to violence."
Suddenly, the club and its exalted reputation were on trial. Melissa's lawyer, Ted Babbitt, made sure to unearth every scandal he could find at the Everglades.
Six years before Melissa was attacked, a woman who worked in the club's tennis shop filed suit alleging that she was harassed by her boss. He left magazines laying around with "obscene" pictures of women, club president Pannill explains now. That suit was dismissed, but the court records have since been destroyed. Both the woman and her boss left the club.
Then in 2002, Jose Manuel Pedraza-Caban, a dishwasher who lived in the Everglades' employee housing, was arrested at the club on murder charges stemming from an incident in Puerto Rico. In response, the club began doing criminal background checks on prospective employees.
That same year, a former plumber at the club, Robert Rorick, filed a whistleblower complaint. He alleged that his supervisor, George Collins, was demanding kickbacks from vendors who sold supplies to the club. Rorick said he was fired for reporting the coercion scheme to a manager.
The club's lawyers fought hard — although unsuccessfully — to keep such dirty laundry from being aired at Melissa's trial. Knowing that her case had already prompted an onslaught of unwanted publicity, general manager Lese warned his employees not to talk to the media, according to an employee who recently left the club. Workers attended a seminar about sexual harassment and racial slurs. The club even started offering an English class for Spanish-speaking employees.
Meanwhile, club president Pannill faced the difficult task of defending the traditions of his increasingly archaic kingdom. He denied knowing that Cardona was illegal when he was hired — even though the club's human resources department had received a letter from the Social Security Administration saying that the worker's social security number didn't match his name. "We do not hire illegal immigrants knowingly," Pannill says.
In a deposition, human resources director Hubbard testified that the club had received about 40 "no-match" letters about employees from 2004 to 2006, but she never questioned or fired the people with suspicious numbers because she was worried about being sued. (After he was accused of assaulting Melissa, Cardona was fired.)
Since then, however, she's begun checking potential employees' social security numbers in an online government database, Hubbard testified. She tells people with nonmatching numbers that they have 60 days to correct the problem. Often, those people don't return to work.
"If we have an employee that we cannot prove is legal, we let 'em go," Pannill said.
And why don't the Latino employees, legal or not, wear nametags? "Two people working side by side wouldn't need a nametag," Pannill says. He's never heard anyone call the men "amigos," he says, but he's not offended by the term. "I've always thought amigo meant friend."
He said the club also hires about 30 Romanian servers each season. "It's good for them and good for us, because they are excellent employees, they work hard, they smile and are cheerful."
Pannill doesn't understand why the lawsuit caused such an uproar about sexual harassment at the club. "It's gotten so if you say good morning the wrong way... anybody can claim sexual harassment at any time," he says.
Nor did he consider the men who looked into Melissa's dorm window to be peeping Toms. "All she had to do was pull the shades," Pannill says now. "I feel like it's my responsibility to pull the shades or whatever... if I'm in a room naked and don't want people to see me."
Mostly, Pannill is eager to put Melissa's lawsuit and the ensuing publicity behind him. He's relieved that the suit was settled this April, before it went to trial.
"It happened, and we're sorry, and it's been settled," he said. But when it comes to management at the club, "I don't think things could be any better than they are right now at the Everglades."
"It is plesant, when the winds are high and dashing the waves about, to watch from the shore the struggles of another"
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....
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.
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
Wow. Anyone thiink of Who Killed a Mockingbird ? in this shit. What fucking racists. They're segregated and shit.. This is SUCH bullshit !
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!!!!!
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.
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.
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.
Please continue to bring in the illegal immigrants! we are good people not criminals! only racist people accuse
Please keep hiring the illegal immigrants! we good for America! we not here to commit the crimes. only racist people accuse us!
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!
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.
Why don't you go get fucked in the ass and try to defend yourself? Geez, if you live, you must be guilty...
@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.
Your mom sounds like she has money... Maybe she should pay to educate you a little more, as you sound completely ignorant...
"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?
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.
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.
@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.
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!