A former schoolteacher from California’s Orange County who molested girls in the Philippines has been jailed for 190 years.
Robert Ruben Ornelas, aged 66, was found guilty of filming himself having sex with girls as young as eight. The exact location of his crimes was not divulged in court.
A court in Los Angeles was told how Ornelas made frequent visits to the Far East. The case against him centred on trips made in 2006, 2008 and 2012.
During these visits, he sexually assaulted two children – who were later brought to the US to testify against him in court.
Ornelas had reportedly admitted to authorities that he fathered children to a pair of sisters, even though he knew that one of the girls was only 17.
The investigation into Ornelas began in 2013 after his brother found images of child abuse on his computer.
During the sentencing hearing, District Judge Cormac J Carney said Ornelas molested his victims “in a cruel manner,” showing a complete disregard for their humanity.
Prosecutors described how he had “a long history of abusing children,” dating back more than half a century.
At the sentencing hearing on Monday (February 27), one of the victims said the defendant “destroyed my dreams”.
US Attorney Eileen M Decker said: “Today’s sentence ensures life imprisonment for this predator whose history of abusing minors began a half-century ago.
“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.”
Ornelas taught at the Santa Ana School District from 1992 to 2003 and also coached a girls’ softball team.
He was also believed to have worked at an unlicensed daycare facility in the 1980s and early 1990s.
His history of preying on children began long before that, according to prosecutors, who said Ornelas began sexually abusing minors in the 1960s.
“This sentence should serve as a powerful deterrent to child predators who mistakenly believe the internet and a plane ticket will enable them to indulge their perverse desires with impunity,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles.
“We will continue to work closely with law enforcement partners here in the US and around the world to hold these dangerous sexual predators accountable for their actions. There can be no place for the abuse of foreign children by our citizens.”