A Modesto City Schools employee working at Downey High School was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, the Modesto Police Department reported Wednesday.
Detectives from the Police Department’s Special Victims Unit arrested 43-year-old Daniel Ornelas at his home. According to a news release from the police, the investigation was prompted by a report from school staff “about a possible romantic relationship between Ornelas, a suspension room monitor, and the 17-year-old student.”
The investigation indicates Ornelas and the girl had been involved in a sexual relationship since February. Detectives “believe this is an isolated incident for Ornelas,” the news release says.
The school has a girls soccer coach named Daniel Ornelas, and several commenters on social media have said he is indeed the school’s soccer coach. However, Downey High Principal Richard Baum would not confirm that, instead referring media inquiries to Modesto City Schools. District representatives could not be reached for comment.
Destiny Flores, a 17-year-old Downey student who is a teacher’s assistant in the attendance office, said she works with Ornelas every day and doesn’t believe the accusations.
She said she goes to his room each morning during first period to retrieve detention slips from Ornelas. Flores has never recalled going there without seeing another adult in the room.
“He’s never made any comments about any sexual stuff at all,” she said. “This is so wrong. It makes me angry that anyone accuses him of this. He inspires me to reach my goals.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637. Just type “TIP704” along with your message.