Charges against a former Galveston County Sheriff’s Office deputy accused of receiving oral sex from a jail inmate in 2015 were dismissed Tuesday because prosecutors couldn’t find the alleged victim, court records show.

In September 2015, a grand jury indicted Ruben Noel Ornelas, 34, on a charge of engaging in sexual conduct with a county jail inmate. The sheriff’s office started investigating Ornelas months earlier after receiving complaints about him.

Tuesday’s motion for dismissal came as the Galveston County District Attorney’s office was unable to find the complainant and because of other ongoing cases against Ornelas, court records show.

“The complainant is the victim in this case,” Assistant District Attorney James Haugh said. “It happens where sometimes they disappear or they aren’t able to be found when it’s time for trial. In this particular case, we can’t proceed without her testimony.”

Ornelas was accused of receiving oral sex from a female inmate while transporting her from the jail to the Galveston County Justice Center, where court hearings are held.

After the indictment, the sheriff’s office immediately revoked his appointment as deputy. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement suspended Ornelas’ peace officer license.

“We made a lot of effort to try to find the victim and we were just unable to find her,” Haugh said of the dismissal.

Calls to Gregory Cagle, the attorney representing Ornelas on the charge of sexual conduct with a supervised person, went unreturned Wednesday.

In November, as Ornelas was awaiting trial on the charge of engaging in sexual contact with a supervised person, he was arrested and charged with indecency with a child and online solicitation of a minor.

Ornelas is accused of sending lewd text and picture messages to a 14-year-old girl, according to arrest affidavits. The girl told detectives Ornelas forced her to perform sex acts two separate times, according to the arrest affidavits.

A status conference on the still-active charges is set for 9 a.m. March 21 in the 212th District Court, Judge Patricia Grady presiding.

Contact reporter Matthew deGrood at 409-683-5230 or



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