UPDATE: 65-year-old teacher admits to detectives he tried to kiss student
Updated On: Feb 07 2014 12:28:44 AM CST
An affidavit of probable cause obtained by KRDO NewsChannel 13 Thursday offers new insight into El Paso County Sheriff's Office's arrest of a teacher in the Hanover school district.
Fernando Ornelas, 65, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.
According to the affidavit, Hanover Jr/Sr High School principal called the El Paso County Sheriff's Office to report possible sexual assault abuse.
The incident may have occured at the beginning of December. The principal told a deputy that a 13-year-old student claimed Ornelas asked her if he could give her a hug. She gave Ornelas a hug but felt the hug lasted too long.
The student reported that Ornelas whispered, "Can I ask you something? Can I have a kiss?"
She said she felt uncomfortable with this and was unsure how to answer.
She said, "No, you have cooties."
The affidavit says in another encounter, Ornelas put his hands on a student's hip and said, "You're a bad (removed from affidavit)" and spanked the student on the butt.
According to the affidavit, Ornelas met with the detective investigating the case. He told the detective he had been working at the high school for eight years. He said he taught choir and band for grades 6 through 12.
According to the affidavit, during the interview, Ornelas admitted to touching female students on the hips and kissing female students on the cheek and forehead. He said he did think this was inappropriate and that he has crossed the line as a teacher.
According to the affidavit, when asked about grabbing a student's butt, he admitted he grabbed a students butt. He went on to say it was inappropriate and he had gone too far.
Former South High School teacher Larisa Oringdulph resigned Nov. 7, 2013 after admitting to kissing and sexting with a student. After an investigation, police determined she hadn't committed a crime. She still holds a Colorado Professional Teacher license valid through March 2017.
Jeremy Loew is a criminal defense lawyer in Colorado Springs. He said gender shouldn't play a role in who gets charged and who doesn't in teacher-student cases, but it does.
"You see that sometimes but that's really a society view. It differs from district attorney's office to district attorney's office. In the Fourth Judicial District Attorney's Office that's not true, but in other places you see that all the time," said Loew. "It's really because society views a male as a predator and a female, sometimes even the male student taking advantage of the situation."
He said the biggest factor that led to different outcomes in the two teachers' cases is that according to Colorado law, kissing is not categorized as unlawful sexual conduct. However, touching someone's butt falls into that category.
Loew said Ornelas will likely be offered a plea deal. He will still have to register as a sex offender.
Hanover School District posted this statement on its website on Jan. 29:
"The Hanover School District is aware of the serious allegations which resulted in the arrest of teacher Fernando Ornelas on Tuesday, Jan. 28th following its reporting of the allegations to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department on Jan. 19th.
"The District immediately placed Mr. Ornelas on paid administrative leave upon receiving the allegations, and he will remain so, pending the completion of its investigation. The District will also remain in contact with the Sheriff’s Department regarding its investigation. The District takes these allegations very seriously but will have no further comment at this time."
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