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David Rivera is back and he's got dirt, but it's not substantiated

A political committee supporting David Rivera is sponsoring a website and running robo calls accusing his challenger for House District 118, Robert Asencio, of being a “child abuser” based on an unsubstantiated 2003 complaint.

Asencio, a Democrat and former sergeant and police investigator with Miami-Dade County Schools, is running against Rivera, the former Republican congressman who is attempting to return to the Florida House.

David RiveraThe allegation, promoted by Rivera’s backers, is based on a complaint by a Hialeah parent in 2003 who said the officer pulled her son “out of her seat by the neck and shirt” while riding on a school bus in February 2003 because she said her son was “disrespectful.”

The school district investigated the complaint and closed the case with a memo to the file, as required by law, said Raul Correa, public information officer for Miami-Dade Schools’ chief of police this week.

“It basically means no violations of law, policy, procedures or guidelines occurred — nothing here — but we're going to put a memo in the file,’’ he said. “It wasn't even a violation of minimum standards.”

Correa also dismissed the claim that Asencio, who worked for another 13 years with the department after the complaint and was promoted to captain, was a child abuser. Robert Asencio

“Our standards are high standards and we do not have child abusers working as police officers in the school district,” Correa said, adding that his comments should not be construed as endorsing either candidate.

Asensio, who retired a year ago after 26 years on the Miami Dade Schools police force, called the allegation, and others on the website “totally false, gutter politics.”

“As police officers you deal at times with unruly people — and I’m not saying that's the case here because I don't remember it,’’ he said. “But it's common knowledge police have to take people in custody, or restrain them for their own safety or the safety of others.”

But Rivera, who initially urged the Herald/Times to review the web site and then said he did not know who was behind it, stood by the claims.

“Mr. Asencio being physically abusive toward a child is 100 percent true,’’ he said. “...There is never any excuse for any school official to put a finger on a child, much less for being ‘disrespectful.’ No parent would accept having their child grabbed by the neck by anyone. Physical and abusive behavior toward a child is unacceptable. Period. End of story.” Story here.