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Crime & Courts

Anchorage police officer arrested over accusations of sexually abusing teenage girl

Andres Ornelas appears for his arraignment Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 at the Anchorage Jail Court. Ornelas, a police officer with the Anchorage Police Department, is facing multiple charges of sexual abuse of a minor. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

An Anchorage police officer was arrested Friday night over accusations he sexually abused a 14-year-old relative of his girlfriend in May.

Officer Andres Ornelas, 28, is facing “multiple” charges of sexual abuse of a minor, according to a police statement sent late Friday evening.

“Detectives believe there are no other victims at this time, and the incident did not take place while the suspect was on duty as a police officer,” police said.

The teenager told police the abuse happened while she was staying the night at a relative’s house on May 17. The relative was dating Ornelas at the time, and the two were living together with their 5-year-old son, charges say.

Charges claim Ornelas sexually abused the 14-year-old after she became intoxicated doing shots. Ornelas allegedly asked the teen for permission before the abuse happened, reminding her that she was underage, charges say.

Ornelas’ girlfriend was not conscious at the time, according to the charges.

The next day, the 14-year-old told her relative what had happened. The couple’s 5-year-old also told his mother that he’d seen and heard the abuse. When she confronted her boyfriend, he denied the abuse, according to the charging document.

At some point, the teen’s 17-year-old sister also found out about the alleged abuse and told a family friend, who called police on Wednesday. Ornelas denied sexually abusing the teen when he was questioned by detectives, charges say.

Ornelas is on administrative leave without pay until the department completes its criminal investigation. Police said the department will also conduct a separate, internal investigation.

“Nobody here is above the law, and if you do something that’s in violation of it, we’re going to treat it just like we would anybody else,” Chief Justin Doll said in an interview Saturday.

Ornelas, a patrol officer, has been with the department for 2 ½ years, according to police. Doll wouldn’t reveal whether any disciplinary action had ever been taken against Ornelas or whether a complaint had ever been received about him, citing the Alaska Constitution’s privacy clause.

When asked why the police department released information about the allegations at 11:30 p.m., after Ornelas had been arrested, rather than earlier in the day when his arrest warrant was filed, Doll said detectives were still investigating the case up until the arrest.

“As long as detectives are still working that case, it may actually harm their ability to gather evidence if we release information to the public too quickly,” he said.

Family members of the teenager remained silent at an initial court hearing on Saturday. When asked whether she had any comments about his bail, the teen’s mother, who had called in to the hearing, just said: “No contact with my family.”

Ornelas’ bond has been set at $50,000 cash corporate and $10,000 cash performance, for a total of $60,000.

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