Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough deputy accused of sexual relationship with Zephyrhills teen

ZEPHYRHILLS — A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy was arrested Monday and accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

Juan Ortega, 50, of Zephyrhills has worked as a detention deputy in Hillsborough since 2007 and has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation, authorities said. Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll did not disclose how Ortega and the Zephyrhills High School student met, although Pasco County schools spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said Ortega was a volunteer at the school. Ortega worked with band students, Romagnoli said.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office report said the incidents between Ortega and the girl began in July. The report says Ortega picked the girl up from school during her lunch break several times and took her to his house in Zephyrhills. On two occasions, Ortega and the teen had sexual relations, the report says.

Another incident happened in a portable classroom unit on the Zephyrhills High School campus during band camp, a week before school started last fall, authorities said. Ortega also sent an email to the girl with a photo of his genitals, the report states.

Ortega admitted to the charges, the Pasco Sheriff's Office says.

Romagnoli said the backgrounds of all potential school volunteers are extensively checked and volunteers are never allowed to be alone with students. She said Ortega passed all of the background checks.

"We will make any modifications needed to ensure that our campuses are safe and our students are safe," Romagnoli said. She said the investigation is ongoing and the Pasco school system is cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Ortega is charged with transmission of material harmful to minors, two counts of lewd or lascivious battery and three counts of lewd and lascivious activity by a suspect older than 18 on a victim aged 12 to 16. He is being held at the Pasco jail in lieu of $55,000 bail.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

Hillsborough deputy accused of sexual relationship with Zephyrhills teen 01/31/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 8:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.