Dominican mother of three Veloz Fior de Pichardo was mistaken for a man and thrown into a jail cell with around 40 lustful male inmates, according to the lawyer who is filing a civil rights complaint on her behalf.
Pichardo, 50, was arrested at Miami's international airport Nov. 4 and transferred to a Miami-Dade County inmate sorting center, where two nurses made the mistaken identification.
A series of jail reports chronicling the mix-up say Pichardo was "arrested and booked as a female," but that "non-traditional male characteristics" prompted further review. The two nurses then "determined that inmate Pichardo has male reproductive organs" and she was sent to a male-only facility.
During her stay in the well-populated male cell, her attorney David Kubiliun says, Pichardo "was harassed severely and she thought at one point she was going to be raped by some of these men and murdered."
Kubiliun is floored by the apparent confusion about his client's sex. He says Pichardo is quite feminine and lacks "any characteristics of someone who even remotely resembles a man."
Jailers re-evaluated Pichardo's sex after 10-12 hours, he says, when her family members informed them of the error.
Kubiliun says Pichardo is neither a hermaphrodite nor transsexual. "She is 100 percent woman," he said. She also has a scar from a c-section, he says, which should have been a give-away for nurses.
"She wants two things" from the civil rights complaint, Kubiliun says. "First, we want to send a message to the Department of Corrections here in Miami-Dade that this should never, ever happen again. And number two: She should be compensated. It appears she is going to have some long-term effects that she's going to have to deal with for the rest of her life."
A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department said there's an internal probe underway to determine what went wrong.
"We cannot comment at this time because there is an ongoing investigation involving this particular case," spokesperson Janelle Hall said. "We are actively looking into this case and trying to get to the bottom of it."
In another odd aspect of the case, Pichardo appears to have been arrested on federal cocaine-related charges filed in 1988, Kubiliun says. He is not representing her against the federal charges, but says she entered the U.S. more than 25 times since 1988 without issue.
Pichardo, who traveled to the U.S. for the birth of her second grandchild, is currently being held at a federal detention facility.
Watch WTVJ-TV's report: