OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – An Osceola County deputy accused of helping a child sex suspect evade the law has been fired and arrested, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office said 30-year-old Arturo Dominguez used law enforcement databases to help the suspect — identified as 36-year-old Omar Ayala — a high school teacher and coach accused of sex activity with a minor.
Dominguez was arrested on Tuesday and now faces four felony charges, according to statements by Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez at a news conference Thursday.
In the second week of May, an investigation of Dominguez began. A detective with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office submitted a complaint about Dominguez after asking questions about Ayala and finding discrepancies in the now-former deputy’s answering.
As the Okeechobee detective had put out an arrest warrant for Ayala and saw that Dominguez had repeatedly run the suspect’s name, they asked whether the deputy had made contact with the suspect. Dominguez told the detective that he ran Ayala’s name because he pulled him over in a traffic stop, what Lopez said was “just a flat-out lie.”
“There wasn’t a traffic stop. What we discovered through the investigation is Deputy Dominguez is a lifelong childhood friend of this individual here. He was running Ayala’s name to see if he had a warrant in the system. He wanted to give his friend a heads up so Ayala would know if the police were looking for him,” Lopez said.
Dominguez was interviewed and allegedly admitted to the sheriff’s office that he did research Ayala.
“He also admitted (that) he lied to the detective about the traffic stop and confessed. He did have conversations with Ayala about his arrest warrant. He told a suspect in a sex case involving a minor to flee. That’s pretty disgusting. That’s pretty sick. You know, we’re here to protect and serve, not to aid and abate anyone, especially a crime in this nature where, you know, we are here to protect our children,” Lopez said.
Dominguez faces charges of unauthorized access to a computer device, official misconduct by obstructing with an investigation, disclosure or use of confidential criminal justice information and accessory after the fact to unlawful sex activity with a minor, Lopez said.
Law enforcement is still searching for Ayala, who was not suspected of being in Osceola County at the time of the news conference, according to Lopez.
“Right now, we’re (providing) whatever resources they need to help affect his arrest. 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, 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,” Lopez said.
When asked if the sheriff’s office was concerned with the optics of this case juxtaposed with how another Osceola County deputy was formally charged last week after a subject caught fire during an attempted arrest at a gas station in Feb. 2022, Lopez said that it was.
“Yeah, we’re concerned. Remember though, you know, they’re two unique, different cases. Both cases were investigated by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. In both cases, we found deputies guilty and (they) were charged, so we’re doing our job. You know, when we discover any type of inappropriate conduct from any law enforcement officer, especially here, you know, we’re going to take the actions to make sure that they’re prosecuted, arrested, put a good case together for prosecution and send it to the state,” Lopez said.