A former Santa Ana teacher with a history of inappropriate behavior with children was in federal custody Tuesday on suspicion of having traveled to the Philippines to have sex with a 14-year-old girl and videotaping the encounter.
Robert Ruben Ornelas was taken into federal custody Friday, charged with engaging in sexual conduct in a foreign place, producing child pornography and possessing child pornography. The three charges carry a maximum sentence of 80 years in federal prison.
At his initial court appearance in federal court Friday afternoon, Ornelas was ordered held without bond.
A federal indictment says that during a trip to the Philippines in March 2012, Ornelas, 63, had sex with an underage girl, videotaped it and brought the images back to the United States.
The indictment says relatives of Ornelas discovered the child pornography while searching a computer Ornelas owned after they became suspicious that he was stealing Social Security and rental payments from his mother, the Orange County Register reported. Ornelas lived with the woman, who suffered from dementia.
The relatives found what they believed to be “large amounts” of child pornography, much of which they suspected showed children 10 years old or younger. They contacted authorities, telling them that Ornelas also had a history of “inappropriate” behavior with young girls, according to the Register,.
Ornelas was already in custody in the Orange County Jail system after being arrested when local law enforcement discovered what they described as a trove of child pornography at his home. As a result of that arrest, he is already facing felony charges in Orange County Superior Court of lewd acts with a minor.
The federal indictment alleges that Ornelas either molested or sexually abused 10 girls, including a 4- or 5-year-old relative. But he has only been charged in connection with one girl. He is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 10.
Authorities say Ornelas worked as a teacher in the Santa Ana Unified School District from 1992 to 2003, and coached a local girls softball team. He is also believed to have worked in, or near, an unlicensed day care near his home in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Register reported.
—City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: