A 31-year-old sheriff’s deputy in Florida found himself inside a jail cell this week for allegedly using his access to information as a law enforcement officer to help his ” lifelong friend” – a 36-year-old high school teacher accused of having sex with a minor – evade authorities and flee the area before he can be arrested.
Former Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputy Arturo Dominguez was removed from his position and taken into custody on Wednesday. He was charged with one count each of subsequently complicity in unlawful sexual activity with a minor, unauthorized access to computers and devices, official misconduct in obstructing an investigation and disclosure or use of classified criminal justice information, all crimes, authorities said.
Dominguez’s friend, Omar Ayala, is on the loose with a warrant for his arrest.
According to Osceola County Sheriff Marco Lopez, his office received a complaint on April 20 regarding former Deputy Dominguez. The complaint comes from a detective from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office who requested an arrest warrant for Ayala, accused of having unlawful sex with a minor.
The mother of the underage victim said she found “disturbing text messages and images” of a sexual nature exchanged between her daughter and Ayala, the victim’s cross-country ski coach. After further investigation, authorities said they discovered that Ayala and the victim had been sending “explicit images and videos” of each other.
Detective Okeechobee noticed that Dominguez had recently used a law enforcement database, repeatedly running Ayala’s name through the system,” Lopez said at a press conference Thursday. The detective contacted Dominguez and asked him why he checked Ayala’s name so often. Dominguez replied that he only used Ayala’s name because he had recently pulled him over during a traffic stop, the sheriff said.
But authorities say there was never a traffic stoppage.
“What Dominguez said [the detective] was just an outright lie. There was no traffic stoppage,” Lopez said. “What we discovered through the investigation is that Deputy Dominquez is a lifelong childhood friend. [Ayala]. He was running Ayala’s name to see if he had a warrant in the system.
Lopez said Dominguez wanted to tell his friend so Ayala would know the police were looking for him.
“He told a suspect in a sex case involving a minor to flee. It’s quite disgusting. It’s pretty sick,” Lopez said. “Due to Dominguez’s actions, Ayala’s fate is currently unknown.”
Dominguez had no prior disciplinary experience during his several years as a deputy, Lopez noted, saying there was no indication he would use his access to confidential information in a harmful way.
Lopez said his office provides Okeechobee detectives with all the resources needed to locate Ayala, who is believed to have fled the state.
“Right now we are providing all the resources they need to help with his arrest,” he said. “We have no reason to believe he is here. The other thing is also since the guy ran away, they think he’s out of state, but it’s not 100%. He was turned over to the Marshals because of the crimes, so the Marshals will now tailor their case and help find him as well.
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