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A 31-year-old sheriff’s deputy in Florida found himself on the inside of 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 a sexual relationship with a minor — evade authorities and flee the area before he could be arrested.
Former Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputy Arturo Dominguez was fired from his position and taken into custody on Wednesday. He was charged with one count each of accessory after the fact to unlawful sexual activity with a minor, unauthorized access to computers and devices, official misconduct by obstructing an investigation, and disclosure or use of confidential criminal justice information, all felonies, authorities announced.
Dominguez’s friend, Omar Ayala, is on the lam with a felony warrant out for his arrest.
According to Osceola County Sheriff Marco Lopez, his office received a complaint on April 20 regarding then-Deputy Dominguez. The complaint came from a detective with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office who applied for an arrest warrant on Ayala, who is accused of engaging in unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
The mother of the minor victim had reported finding “disturbing text messages and pictures” of a sexual nature being exchanged between her daughter and Ayala, the victim’s cross-country coach. Upon further investigation, authorities said they found Ayala and the victim had sent each other “explicit images and videos” of each other.
The Okeechobee detective noticed that Dominguez had recently used a law enforcement database, repeatedly running Ayala’s name through the system,” Lopez said during a Thursday press conference. The detective contacted Dominguez and inquired why he had been checking Ayala’s name so frequently. Dominguez responded that he had only run Ayala’s name because he had recently pulled him over on a traffic stop, the sheriff said.
But authorities say that there was never any traffic stop.
“What Dominguez told [the detective] was just a flat-out lie. There was no traffic stop,” Lopez said. “What we discovered through the investigation is that Deputy Dominquez is a lifelong childhood friend of [Ayala]. He was running Ayala’s name to see if he had a warrant in the system.”
Lopez said Dominguez wanted to give his friend “a heads-up” so Ayala would know the police were looking for him.
“He told a suspect in a sex case involving a minor to flee. That’s pretty disgusting. That’s pretty sick,” Lopez said. “Because of Dominguez’s actions, Ayala’s whereabouts are currently unknown.”
Dominguez had no previous disciplinary background during his several years as a deputy, Lopez noted, saying there was no indication that he would use his access to confidential information nefariously.
Lopez said his office is providing Okeechobee detectives with any resources necessary to locate Ayala, who is believed to have fled the state.
“Right now, we’re providing whatever resources they need to help affect his arrest,” he said. “We have no reason to believe he’s here. The other thing is also since the guy’s absconded, they believe he’s out of state, but that’s not 100%. It’s been turned over to the Marshals because of the felonies so the Marshals are now going to adapt their case and help look for him also.”
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