Local

Jul 1, 2012 9:26 PM

Former wrestling coach accused of having sex with 15-year-old girl

TUCSON-A former Tucson High School coach is in jail tonight charged with sexual conduct with a minor.

Deputies arrested the former wrestling coach Saturday night on the Southside.

Sheriff Deputies found 53-year-old Richard Ortiz and a 15 year old partially dressed inside a vehicle.

"This is where it all happened see right where those two red signs are," said Irma Mace as she demonstrated the location.

Mace lives in the neighborhood where deputies found the pair.

"I guess because it's a dead end, people come and they do bad things," said Mace.

She was watching through her window as deputies checked on the dead end on South Gila Avenue Saturday night after receiving a call about a suspicious vehicle in the area.

"As you can see there are so many bushes and trees you can hide in," said Mace.

Deputies found the pair inside a van on the dark corner just before midnight.

"It's very dark," said Mace. "Maybe that's why they used it."

When deputies got closer, they determined Ortiz was involved in sexual conduct with the minor.

"Good thing I didn't see him, or I'd kick him," said Abel Aguilar who lives at the dead end.

According to the sheriff's office, Ortiz was a coach for the Tucson High School's wrestling team before January of this year.

Investigators determined the 15-year-old girl was a member of the wrestling team, and since March, the girl had been getting private wrestling instruction from Ortiz.

"That's how they knew one another," said Thomas Peine, spokesman of Pima County Sheriff's office.

Peine said on Saturday, the victim had been helping Ortiz with a special event, and at the time Ortiz was supposed to take the girl home, he brought her to this area instead.

"Good thing they caught him," said Aguilar.

Peine said if they hadn't received a call about the suspicious vehicle, they may not have caught Ortiz in the van with the victim Saturday night.

"This once again proves how important it is that if citizens observe anything that doesn't seem right, seems suspicious, call 911," said Peine.

Ortiz was arrested for sexual conduct with a minor and booked into the Pima County Adult Detention Center.

Ortiz is employed by the Tucson Unified School District.

In a statement, TUSD said he works as a campus monitor liaison during the school year, and is not employed by the district during the summer.

TUSD said this is a matter for deputies or police investigating the situation.

They said they will cooperate with law enforcement.

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