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Businessman accused of child molestation sues alleging defamation, smear campaign

By Francisco Alvarado, FloridaBulldog.org 

Photo: Local 10 News

A South Miami-Dade couple launched a smear campaign with the assistance of mega-lobbyist Ron Book to destroy the reputation of a prominent businessman accused by their six-year-old daughter of molesting her at a pool party, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

Jozef Opdeweegh has denied any wrongdoing. And he and his wife, Jacqueline Miguel, are suing spouses Jonathan and Melissa Cauff and Stuart Cauff, the little girl’s grandfather, for defamation with express malice and neglect in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The Feb. 14 complaint does not name Book as a defendant, but the document identifies him as a family spokesman who helped fuel substantial media coverage about the alleged sexual assault, which occurred on May 31, 2017.

The complaint cites Book’s remarks to Local 10 News after Opdeweegh’s Aug. 16, 2017 bond hearing that “clearly there was an inappropriate touching.”

In a phone interview, Book dismissed the lawsuit as a meritless attempt to harass and intimidate the Cauffs from continuing to speak up about what Opdeweegh allegedly did to the 6-year-old girl. “This lawsuit is meant to stop them from continuing to make their case,” Book said. “It is re-victimizing the victim and it creates a chilling effect.”

Jozef Opdeweegh

Attempts to reach Jonathan and Melissa Cauff were unsuccessful. Calls to publicly listed phone numbers under their names indicated they were disconnected. Stuart Cauff declined to comment. Opdeweegh and Miguel are represented by Barry Richard, a Greenberg Traurig shareholder who represented George W. Bush in the Florida Gore versus Bush legal battle that determined the presidency in 2000. Richard declined to comment.

On his personal website, Opdeweegh touts his 17-year experience as a past chief executive, chairman and board member of private and public global companies with a combined 17,000 employees and $300 million in earnings. His most recent CEO gig was with Premier Farnell, a global technology manufacturer and distributor based in London from April to November 2016. Since then, he has worked as business consultant for private equity funds.

Opdeweegh is suing for damages for the loss of his good reputation, loss of consulting gigs with multiple private-equity companies and loss of an opportunity to become the chief executive of a global corporation.

A pool party

According to a Miami-Dade police report, Opdeweegh, Miguel and their two children attended a pool party hosted by the Cauffs at their Glenvar Heights apartment complex at 8150 SW 72nd Ave. The report states Jonathan Cauff and Miguel are childhood friends and their kids attend the same classes at Gulliver Academy. At some point, Opdeweegh was in the water with the children, including Jonathan and Melissa Cauff’s daughter. Her parents were not in the pool.

In an interview with a Miami-Dade police detective two months after the incident, Jonathan Cauff said his daughter got out of the pool and ran over to the cabanas where he was sitting. “She leaned over, whispered in his ear and stated, ‘Mr. Opdeweegh just touched my pipi,’ ” the police report states. She repeated the accusation two more times to her father and then showed her mother how Opdeweegh rubbed his hands over the portion of her bathing suit covering her vagina.

The apartment house pool where the alleged touching occurred.

The couple decided to act as if nothing untoward had happened and continued to party so as not to create a scene and cause more distress for their daughter, “who appeared nervous and afraid,” Jonathan Cauff told the investigator.

Two days later, on June 2, the Cauffs reported the alleged molestation to the Department of Children & Families and scheduled an appointment with a therapist because their daughter was crying, sad and scared following the incident, per Jonathan Cauff’s statement. DCF reported the child’s accusations against Opdeweegh to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and county police.

On June 22, the little girl participated in a forensic interview at Kristi House, a non-profit affiliated with the state attorney’s office that assists child sex abuse victims. She showed investigators how Opdeweegh allegedly touched her vagina in an “up/down motion.”

Melissa Cauff also recounted similar details about the incident with detectives and mentioned how in 2015 she read her daughter a children’s book called “Lauren’s Kingdom” in which the author was sexually abused as a child by a nanny.

The book was written by Broward State Sen. Lauren Book, daughter of Ron Book and founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering sexually victimized children and their family members to report their attackers to the proper authorities. Her father, who represents dozens of private companies and local governments in Tallahassee, is chairman of Lauren’s Kids.

Florida funnels millions to Lauren’s Kids

Since 2012, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott have showered Lauren’s Kids with more than $10 million in taxpayer funding to develop a curriculum about child sex abuse reporting for elementary, middle and high school students. The program is optional and not every public school district is required to teach it.

During the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, legislators approved a combined $3 million in funding for Lauren’s Kids knowing the non-profit is owned and operated by one of their colleagues, who was elected in 2016. Sen. Book, who earns a $135,000-a-year-salary as Lauren’s Kids top officer, has also voted in favor of the state appropriations bills knowing it includes line items for Lauren’s Kids.

Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera at an April 22, 2015 rally in Tallahassee for Lauren’s Kids with Lauren and Ron Book

In previous interviews, she told Florida Bulldog that she doesn’t have a conflict because the funding will not personally benefit her. In addition, she said, she resigned from the board of directors of the foundation that raises money for Lauren’s Kids and her salary was restructured so that her compensation is not funded with public dollars.

According to Opdeweegh’s lawsuit, he fully cooperated with detectives after they informed him that he was being investigated on July 27. A month later, on Aug. 14, he voluntarily surrendered and was charged with one felony count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child. He was freed on a $300,000 bond two days later.

Between June 1 and Aug. 14, the Cauffs met with persons acting as their agents to discuss a plan of action designed to destroy the reputation of Jozef Opdeweegh, the lawsuit alleges.

“The Cauffs, or their agents acting with their knowledge and approval, caused substantial media attendance at the August 16, 2017 bond hearing,” the lawsuit claims. “As a result, there was widespread media coverage of the bond hearing, including video clips of Jozef Opdeweegh in prison uniform, and of a press conference at which Ron Book, a spokesman for the Cauffs, stated that ‘clearly there was an inappropriate touching.'”

The lawsuit also contains excerpts of alleged text messages between Jonathan and Stuart Cauff lauding the lobbyist’s handling of the media. “Ron Book was fantastic,” Stuart Cauff wrote. “The total report makes it appear to have gone exactly as desired.” To which Jonathan Cauff responded: “Ron is amazing. Thank God he was there. They painted [Opdeweegh] so guilty.”

Opdeweegh, in his lawsuit, alleges the text messages “reflect a strong desire and intention to hurt the Opdeweeghs rather than seeing fairness and justice served, and to use the news media to do so.”

Cauffs refused to cooperate?

The complaint also claims the Cauffs refused to cooperate with police investigators, including making a controlled telephone call to Opdeweegh to see if he could catch his daughter’s alleged molester in a lie. “The purpose of the call was the possibility that Jozef Opdeweegh’s response would assist in determining the likelihood of guilt,” the lawsuit claims.

On Sept. 20, an assistant state attorney told the Cauffs that the office was not going to prosecute Opdeweegh due to a lack of corroborating evidence, the lawsuit states. Eight days later, the case was closed with no action taken against Opdeweegh.

Attorney Barry Richard

Book told Florida Bulldog that sexual abuse cases often don’t go to trial because of the difficulty proving the alleged incident took place when there are no eyewitnesses or other corroborating evidence. “This gentleman was charged because police believe he did it and the judge found probable cause,” he said. “The prosecutors decided to dismiss the case because they felt they couldn’t get a conviction. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

Book also admonished Opdeweegh’s lawyer, Richard, for mentioning his name in the complaint. “I think it’s unfair,” Book said. “We stand up for victims’ rights on a regular basis. Somehow the plaintiff and Richard felt that was somewhat material.”

He said he did not speak at the press conference as a legal representative for the Cauffs. “I got out in front because the press wanted someone from the family to say something,” Book recalled.

Nevertheless, Book said he and Lauren’s Kids have no regrets getting involved with the Cauffs. “This isn’t going to deter us from standing up for victims and their families,” he said. “Lawyers for the gentleman criticized the Cauff family for teaching their child to speak up until someone hears her voice. To do otherwise is wrong, period.”

 

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Latest comments

  • The best of luck to Jozef Opdeweegh. Got get Ron Book and Lauren. They are taking our hard earned tax dollars. Too many people are afraid to speak out against the Books.
    Books are crooks.

  • Very very wrong that Lauren’s Kids gets public dollars for anything. We must prevent further enrichment of the Books.

  • I hope the Book Crime Family loses badly. They are pathological liars and have repeatedly weilded the South Florida legal system as a weapon of vengeance against those they hate.

    Lets not forget Lauren Book’s erratic behavior during the legislature, derailing a human trafficking bill for no apparent reason. (Of course, it should be noted that Ron Book represents the hotel insurance lobby.) Then she breaks the rules trying to add it to a different bill, pytting on a dog and pont show to save face but in the end, this bill did not pass.

    Ron and Lauren Book’s efforts to silence my activism does not detract from the fact Ron Book is a convicted criminal for illegal campaign contributions yet is still a corrupt lobbyist with his hands in a lot of pockets.

    Read more at Floridians For Freedom: The Truth About Ron and Lauren Book.

  • Derek! Funny seeing you here after you were issued a restraining order. Did you turn in all your guns and your concealed weapons permit as ordered?

  • Hold on here with these derogatory comments about Mr.Book and his daughter.First i know of them i do not know either one of them personally.However, judging by there involvement and impletation of Laurens Kids i have tremendous respect for the work they do on behalf of their organization.These above comments have absolutely no merit and unwarranted.They are making a difference and are responsible for having a postive impact on these sexual battered victims.What have some of you done to make a difference in peoples lives.None is your answer.To the Books keep up the good work.Now as far as this alleged diddler( again with this demographic- just last month prior to the mayoral race concerning Dean Trantalis and his involvement or lack of with this former employee of Broward House- what got me concerned is Deans comments about innocent to proven guilty etc concerning this subject -i researched Dean is not asc.with this alleged perpetrator- i trust but i verify- Trantalis in the clear) now back to this alleged diddler Opedweedh whatever just because the State atty.declined to press criminal charges the parents here could still file a civil suit against him.Oh i know the child just made this shit up for ha.has huh.Researched has shown not likely.Im around my friends children all the time never once have these children ever stated this such stated action.We love all children.I believe this little girl.I say Senator Book and Mr.Book work your magic and have the parents file civil suit.I see nothing inappropriate or any time of civil disobedience on behalf of the Books actions.File civil suit.Too bad Mr.Openweedh that your repuation was damaged.Again by reading the concerns i stick by Mr.Book and his actions.Have jury trial.Special place in Hell for diddlers.As far as this nanny that attacked you Senator Book she likes titties so much lets cut hers off..And Charlie u owe her and her father in regards to how disrespectful you were to both of them..

  • Meaning Charlie King u owe them an apology for what he stated about the Books…

  • I get it this alleged didler is suing for DefamAtion.Beautiful.U counter sue.No jury in the world will side with a alleged diddler.This is to your advantage Mr.Book and or victims parents..Roll the dice Mr.Whats his name Iponeeewernie.Who cares.

  • You are a poor excuse of a “city activist,” Robert Walsh, assuming that’s your real name. If so, then you are the same Walsh who is a convicted felon. Hey, you’d fit right in with Ron Book, who was also convicted of a non-violent felony and lost his right to vote and run for public office back in

    Lauren Book is the Donald Trump of Broward County. Like Trump, Senator Book is spending more time away from her job than at her job. She obviously did not wait for the legislature to end to leave her job for more shameless self promotion.

    To this day, she still lacks any noteworthy accomplishments in office. She failed Parkland victims by voting to have even more guns in schools. But whatever, I could care less about guns. But since you love crapping your opinions down the throats of others, Robert, I have a perfectly legitimate question for you.

    You favorite Senator proposed a bill designed to curb sex trafficking that, among other things, would have made hotels financially liable for not reporting suspected sex trafficking. It had unanimous support and like other bills of this nature, mainly because all politicians love bills that help them look good during the next election despite the negative consequences of the laws. Anyways, Lauren Book pulls the bill, claiming it would face problems in the House. (It should be noted that Ron Book, her lobbyist father, represents the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, aka the hotel insurance lobby.) At the last second, Lauren Book tries to revive the dead bill by attacking it to another controversial bill she created, breaking legislative rules in the process, and still dooming a bill that was going to easily pass into another failed bill. This bill became the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl of legislative choke jobs, matched only by Trump’s failed repeal of Obamacare.

    I want to hear you justify Lauren Book’s actions in derailing her own unanimously approved Senate bill. C’mon, big mouth, let us hear your explanation.

  • Always good to hear a ranting convicted child sex abuser who has made it his life mission to harass children who were sexual abuse victims. His “thing” for Lauren Book and other victims is frightening ironic. He blamed his 11-year-old victim for his abuse. Now he calls himself a “registered citizen,” as if being a registered child sex abuser is a point of pride. In my opinion adults who sexually prey on children should be locked up for life!

  • Wow.Thats all some of you got is that damn felony conviction from 1999.Hello.Thats all you got.Yes, i am Robert Walsh.No hiding like you.I earned that title city activist.I don.t stick up for alleged diddlers.Nor do the Books.Now to address your issue with the sex trafficing and making the hotels libel.Hoteliers cannot be made libel for what their guest do behind closed doors.Also i support Marcys law. As far as Mr.Book criminal conviction he was tried etc.Paid restitution etc.We give him another chance.Man has been through Hell and back.He is from my observations a good father and provider.Your just nasty.Probably constipated behind relieve and probably suffer from erectile dysfunction, which explains your irratitated nature.My advice to you two vodka oj.s and a pot brownie should do the trick.If that doesn.t work i hear shock treatments are making a comeback..

  • A convicted felon is still a felon. Iggy Gonzalez, Robert Walsh, and Ron Book are all convicted criminals. You’re nothing but a common lowlife thug, Robert. It is simply too bad you did not receive a better education. Perhaps your arguments would be more persuasive if you worked on your inferior grammar skills.

    I will do what I can to assist anyone wrongfully accused by Ron Book and his daughter. They are both pathological liars. I’m willing to bet Lauren lied about her abuse. After all, if she will lie about events under oath in one trial, I’m sure Lauren and her Buddy Holly reject glasses will lie in another case. I look forward to seeing the Books squirm like the worms they are. Oh, and the criticism and protests will not end. Believe that, losers.

  • PS: Walsh writes, “Now to address your issue with the sex trafficing and making the hotels libel.Hoteliers cannot be made libel for what their guest do behind closed doors.Also i support Marcys law.”

    That is not an adequate explanation (not to mention poorly typed). You are contradicting yourself, not to mention contradicting your criminal heroes. Book did try to pass the law, backed off (presumably because daddy represents the hotel lobby) then tried to reinstate it last minute after facing backlash from victim cultists. So you do disagree with criminal lobbyist and his airheaded daughter at times.

    But please try to type like a grown up. I get a headache reading your gibberish.

  • Well i guess you told me off.And your sooo perfect huh? Yet you hide behind your alias.Yes, your right my grammar needs work( to busy in my early yrs.selling knock off hand bags).Yet i pay my bills, am sel c.f. supporting and don.t take gov.t handouts.Nor, am i on disability( some if u out there collected a check every month but can attend comm.meetings, serve on advisory bds etc i say if you can be this civicly involved than u can get off your ass and get a job).Then what was your other dig oh yes the felony conviction- from 1999.Thats all some of you bitches got( referring to some men out there).As far as the Books keep up the good work.To say that Sen.Book lied about her molestation this is precisely why we need Marcys law…

  • LOL! Ironic that “Mr. Ron Book Is Still A Criminal” doesn’t admit he is a convicted child sexual abuser and the woman he’s fixated on, Lauren Book, had to obtain a restraining order to protect herself from his unrelenting attacks about her looks, her work, her annual walk and her family. Having a sexual relationship with an 11-year-old inspired him to attack victims of sexual abuse. He should repent before it’s too late.

  • Robert Walsh, I’d have no problems telling you that you are trash to your fugly face. You are just like “Iggy” in that you talk big online but your mouth writes checks your body can’t cash. I have to laugh at your talking about not needing disability. I guess you don’t need it when you can just write checks that bounce, you lowlife thief.

    By the way, Broward County just lost a case on their residency restriction laws. The tables are turning, and that change is coming to your backyard. Suck on that, loser.

  • “Ron Book Is Still A Criminal” gets down to calling names because, as a convicted child sexual molester on the national “watch out for him” list, is living on Social Security Disability checks for mental disorders.

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