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Menudo founder investigated in alleged sex assault of ex-member


Edgardo Díaz, the founder of the internationally famous Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, is under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department over allegations that he sexually assaulted a former teenage member of the group in the 1980s, police officials said.

Allegations of sexual, verbal and physical abuse have swirled around Menudo for decades, but the investigation by the LAPD, centered around an attack that allegedly occurred at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, is the first known criminal investigation surrounding Menudo and its creator by law enforcement.

“We can confirm a report was taken and it is an ongoing investigation,” an LAPD spokesperson said in a statement to The Times. “Due to victim confidentiality the department is unable to provide further.”

The investigation stems from allegations made by former Menudo star Roy Rosselló, who was part of the teen-pop band during the height of its international popularity in the 1980s.

Rosselló had spoken out years earlier about alleged abuse during his time with Menudo, but his account regained new focus as part of the Peacock docuseries “Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed,” which looks into the allegations of abuse within the band, and the alleged connection to Jose Menendez, the former RCA music executive who was murdered in 1989 by his two sons, Lyle and Erik Menendez, who also fatally shot their mother, Mary Louise “Kitty” Menendez, in the family’s Beverly Hills mansion.

In the last episode of the three-part docuseries, Rosselló recounts a visit to the Biltmore Hotel during a trip to L.A. Menudo was staying at the hotel, and Rosselló says he and other teenage members of the band rented a second room for girls, who were the same age as they were.

Rosselló alleges in the series that Díaz slapped another member of the band, then punched him repeatedly when he found out about the girls. Díaz allegedly took Rosselló to another room, tied him to the bed, beat him with a wet towel and raped him.

“He told me, ‘This better be the last time I see you with a woman because you are mine. I’m not going to share you with anyone,’” Rosselló says in Spanish in the docuseries.

Toward the end of the docuseries, Rosselló is seen walking into an LAPD station on Nov. 8 to file a police report about the alleged attack. He returns with what looks like a copy of the report.

Roy Rosselló, left, and journalist Robert Rand, in the Peacock docuseries, “Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed.”

(Peacock)

In the docuseries, reported by journalists Robert Rand and Nery Ynclan, Rosselló alleges he was repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted by Díaz when he joined Menudo at 13. Rosselló also alleges for the first time that Díaz took him to the home of Jose Menendez in New Jersey, where he says he was drugged and raped by Menendez when he was 14.

“That’s the man here that raped me,” Rosselló says in the docuseries, pointing to a picture of the group accompanied by Menendez. “That’s the pedophile.”

In 1996, Erik and Lyle Menendez were convicted in the murder of their parents, a shocking crime that garnered headlines across the country. Their first trials, in which the brothers’ attorneys and witnesses detailed years of alleged sexual abuse suffered by the siblings at their hands of the father, ended with two hung juries. But after prosecutors decided to retry the brothers, evidence of the alleged abuse was limited and they were convicted.

It’s not clear whether Rosselló’s rape allegation against Jose Menendez could be a factor in the Menendez brothers’ case being reexamined. Attorneys for the siblings have previously attempted to appeal their convictions.

It was also unclear whether Rosselló, who alleged the abuse happened on a regular basis during his time with the band, would seek to report more alleged instances of abuse and assault in other jurisdictions.

“Roy may have filed criminal charges in Los Angeles so far, but he says he was sexually assaulted in cities across the U.S. and around the world,” Rand told The Times.

Roy Rosselló in the Peacock docuseries, "Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed."

Former Menudo band member Roy Rosselló in the Peacock docuseries, “Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed.”

(Peacock)

Former colleagues at the Miami Herald, Rand and Ynclan said they began working together on the Menudo and Menendez story in 2018 when they met at the home of an aunt of the Menendez brothers. Since then, the two have been looking to speak with former members of Menudo to tell their story, including Rosselló.

“Roy was on a mission to get heard, and having an investigation opened after all these years has filled him with pride, and for the first time, hope, that it may not be too late to find the justice he so badly seeks,” Ynclan told The Times.

In the docuseries, Rosselló provided at times graphic details of the alleged sexual abuse, but it wasn’t the first time he had shared allegations of abuse as a member of Menudo.

In 2014, Rosselló appeared on the Brazilian reality show “A Fazenda 7” and alleged he had been a victim of sexual abuse by Díaz. Six years later, he appeared on a Mexican entertainment news program, “Ventaneando,” and repeated claims of sexual abuse by Díaz.

Abuse allegations had plagued the boy band since the early 1990s.

Bolivar Arellano, a freelance photographer who worked with Menudo, alleged on a Puerto Rican talk show in 1991 that several members of the band had been given alcohol, drugs and were sexually abused, according to the docuseries. Arellano had covered the band’s first visit to New York in 1983 and founded Menuditis, a store selling Menudo merchandise.

Later that year, former Menudo member Ralphy Rodríguez appeared on the Univision program “El show de Cristina” and said that he’d seen the alleged abuse perpetrated by Díaz with underage members of the band. Díaz, who appeared in the show, denied the accusations.

Díaz did not participate in the Peacock docuseries. He could not be immediately contacted for this story. Ricardo Melendez, a former attorney for Diaz, did not respond to requests for comment.

Díaz was the creator of Menudo, which started in 1977 and grew to worldwide stardom. Dressed in colorful, tight outfits, the teenagers quickly became heartthrobs at sold-out concerts around the world.

The group remained active until 2002, but the height of its popularity was in the 1980s. Díaz also rotated members of the group throughout the decades, introducing new members as young as 13, and often phasing them out when they reached 16.

More than 30 teens took part in some form of Menudo, including superstar Ricky Martin.



This story originally appeared on LA Times

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