SANTA ANA, CALIF.
A onetime school teacher who traveled to the Philippines to engage in sex with two girls and produced videos of the abuse was sentenced to 190 years in federal prison, according to officials.
U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney sentenced Robert Ruben Ornelas, 66, of Santa Ana, who has a long history of abusing children, to a 2,280-month sentence, according to authorities.
During today’s hearing, Judge Carney said Ornelas molested children in a “cruel manner” and the defendant demonstrated a complete disregard for his victims’ humanity.
Ornelas was found guilty in November by a federal jury of seven counts – two counts of engaging in sexual conduct in a foreign place, three counts of producing child pornography, and two counts of possessing child pornography.
Ornelas worked as a teacher with the Santa Ana School District from 1992 to 2003, authorities said. He coached a local girls softball team during the same period, according to published reports
He was also believed to have worked in or around an unlicensed daycare facility operated near his residence throughout the 1980s and possibly the early 1990s, officials stated.
The evidence presented during a six-day trial showed that Ornelas traveled to the Philippines on multiple occasions. He was convicted in relation to three specific trips – in 2006, 2008 and 2012 – where he sexually assaulted two girls who were as young as approximately eight, according to authorities.
He was convicted in relation to three specific trips – in 2006, 2008 and 2012 – where he sexually assaulted two girls who were as young as approximately eight.
During all three trips, Ornelas took videos of the molestation and brought the images with him when he returned the U.S.
The two victims traveled to the United States to testify during the trial about the sexual assaults and made statements at today’s hearing. One of the victims said: “Why did I meet this person? He destroyed my dreams.”
“Today’s sentence ensures life imprisonment for this predator whose history of abusing minors began a half-century ago,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “For seven years, this defendant repeatedly travelled to the Philippines, where he paid family members for sexual access to little girls who were living in poverty. The defendant claimed to be an attorney and promised to help the victims by funding their educations, but he brought trauma and anguish to their lives for which no amount of money could compensate.”
The investigation into Ornelas began in 2013 when federal authorities received a tip that he possessed a large quantity of child pornography.
During the execution of a search warrant, investigators found images, videos and information on Ornelas’ computer and digital media.
In sentencing papers filed with the court, prosecutors pointed out that Ornelas’ history of sexually abusing minors extended back to the 1960s.
“Defendant Ornelas took advantage of impoverished children in a foreign country, away from the scrutiny of the United States, where his past involved abusing children,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “His young victims demonstrated tremendous bravery by traveling to a foreign country to testify about the crimes perpetrated against them, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for assisting the government in putting Ornelas away for the rest of his life.”