March 18, 2013
(J. Scott Applewhite, File/Associated Press)
(J. Scott Applewhite, File/Associated Press)

The video in which women from the Dominican Republic allege that U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez paid to have sex with them was a sponsored affair, according to the Dominican National Police. Those women were paid to supply their testimony, which they were led to believe was related to a divorce case. It’s an account squares with a story in the Washington Post reporting that one of the women had made an official statement saying she had been paid to make a video framing Menendez.

The police investigation challenges a Nov. 1 story by the Daily Caller. It said that Menendez had indeed done business with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic and used this very recording as the basis for the story. A graph from the story reads:

In interviews, the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.

The story didn’t advance a strong reason why the women would go on videotape to talk about an alleged client, other than the possibility that they were irked about being underpaid.

The Post, however, offered an answer: The women had been told that their testimony would be used in a divorce case involving Menendez donor Salomon Melgen.

ABC News also participated in the video interview with the women, but it did not run a story passing along the allegations.

A summary from the National Police site indicates that the women told investigators that they showed up at a hotel room to do the video-conference over the Internet. That plan, however, failed when they couldn’t get a strong-enough Internet signal. So they went to a shopping plaza where they found WiFi.

Two of the women received 17,000 Dominican pesos each ($413) and another received 12,000 pesos ($291) for their testimony, such as it was, according to the National Police.

From the Daily Caller: “We’ve seen the story and are looking into the new developments. We’ll have a piece up soon.”

After the Post’s reporting called into question the legitimacy of the Daily Caller’s video interview, the conservative website blasted back, charging that the woman who had recanted her testimony was not one of the women featured in the Daily Caller’s video interview. This investigation by the Dominican police, however, has concluded that all three of them were paid for their presence before the video camera.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.