Miami to pay $100K after Mayor Suarez’s aide accused of fondling teen at city hall

Joey Flechas, Charles Rabin
·2 min read

Miami’s city government will pay $100,000 to the family of a teen who accused a former top adviser to Mayor Francis Suarez of sexual misconduct.

In February 2020, Suarez’s then-director of communications, former local television journalist Rene Pedrosa, resigned days before he was arrested and charged with luring a 16-year-old boy to City Hall, groping him and later sending the boy an explicit photo on his cellphone. Pedrosa faces charges that are pending in federal court.

On Thursday, commissioners quietly approved the settlement with no discussion, and no public recognition that they were resolving an embarrassing scandal.

The item was listed on the commission’s consent agenda with few specifics, other than an explanation that the office of City Attorney Victoria Méndez had investigated claims of inappropriate conduct by a former city of Miami employee. Two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to the Miami Herald the settlement stems from the allegations against Pedrosa.

Pedrosa, 49, had served as Suarez’s chief spokesman for about 12 months. In English and Spanish-language media, Pedrosa worked as a bullish amplifier of the mayor’s politics and policies at a time when Suarez struggled to corral commissioners’ support for his agenda.

Pedrosa’s tenure on Suarez’s staff ended after police began investigating claims he used his position to lure a boy to City Hall in November of 2019 and groped him in a conference room after the teen’s mother dropped him off. Police said Pedrosa promised the boy a job designing a city web page and that he tried to kiss the teen after fondling him.

According to his arrest report, Pedrosa sent the boy a message via the WhatsApp messenger a few days after the initial incident and asked for a photo. Police said the teen and Pedrosa exchanged explicit photographs, and Pedrosa told the teen by text that he was “dying to sleep with you.”

Pedrosa, who was originally charged by the state, is now awaiting trial in federal court. The trial date has not been set. He’s been charged with production of child pornography, receipt of child pornography and coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity. He was released in April after posting a $200,000 bond and is on home detention.

A condition on his bond states that Pedrosa is prohibited from any contact with anyone under 18 unless approved by pretrial services.