POSTED: Monday, February 4, 2013 - 5:30pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 4, 2013 - 5:44pm
(CNN) — A woman accused of being a prostitute involved with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez denied those claims in a Spanish-language interview released Monday.
The woman, identified as 21-year-old Yaneisi Fernandez, says she's never met Menendez or worked as a prostitute.
"I've never participated in those activities, I don't know those people or that man," Fernandez told Univision.
Menendez is battling allegations of improper travel and parties with prostitutes, claims he's vehemently denied. He's been in the spotlight as scrutiny escalates over his relationship with a generous donor whose plane he took to the Dominican Republic and who has business ties in the Caribbean nation.
The scandal first emerged shortly before Election Day last fall, when a conservative online publication cited three unidentified sources who claimed the senator had flown on private planes to the Caribbean and during the trips had sex parties with prostitutes.
The latest allegations are based on documents published by a non-partisan Washington watchdog group - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, known as CREW. The group published an e-mail this week it received last April from a man who identified himself as Peter Williams.
"My duty as a U.S. citizen obligates me to report what I consider to be a grave violation of the most fundamental codes of conduct that a politician of my country must follow," the tipster wrote.
E-mails sent by Williams included statements from women detailing what they said were sex parties in a house and on a yacht in the Dominican Republic owned by Dr. Salomon Melgen, a south Florida ophthalmologist.
Williams suggested that he and the women "will be willing to testify" about the allegations if their safety was guaranteed.
The documents released by CREW identify Yaneisi Fernandez as one of the prostitutes connected to Menendez, allegations she told Univision were completely false.
"No, that is completely false. I don't even know that man. Not even through TV have I seen him," she said. CNN is not able to verify Fernandez's story.
A translation of the Univision interview with Fernandez was e-mailed to reporters by staffers in Menendez's Senate office. The translation was confirmed to be accurate by CNN.
An official working for Menendez told CNN the video "is pretty damning to those who continue to peddle 'Pete Williams'' allegations and all this garbage."
"Real people get hurt," the official said.
CNN's Jim Acosta, Adriana Hauser, Alan Duke and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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