Downey High School Coach Accused of Having Sex with a Student

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“Very touchy.”

Those aren’t the words you would expect to hear a high schooler use to describe an adult coach at her school, but those are exactly the words that come to mind when senior Ashley Harvey thinks about 43-year-old Daniel Ornelas.

“He’s always very touchy and he makes everyone super uncomfortable,” she said.

In her yearbook from Modesto’s Downey High, Ornelas — a suspension room monitor —  is smiling with his team, in his other role as the varsity girl’s soccer coach.

It’s a much different look for him than his mugshot — one taken as part of his arrest on charges of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

“He’s very flirty,” Harvey said.

Harvey is not the student police say Ornelas has been involved with, but she does know that girl.

She says the coach’s hyper-vigilance with pointing out dress code violations only on girls was a ruse so he could get close to them.

“Shorts — he would touch your leg, your shirt — your strap,” she said.

Tuesday — just two days before graduation — while Harvey and her friends were enjoying Senior Sunset events, word was spreading that police had arrested Ornelas for allegedly sleeping with one of their 17-year-old classmates since February.

She says the girl had been talking about the relationship on campus.

“Just lightly, lightly nonchalantly,” Harvey said.

Her mother and other parents — not so nonchalant about the story.

“It’s not right, you know. When you send your children to school, I always feel like they’re in a safe environment and they shouldn’t have to be subject to, such, you know –things like that,” Nona Harvey said.

The Modesto City School District is anything but nonchalant in its response.

Administrators called parents to alert them of the arrest.

Craig Rydquist, associate superintendent for human resources, also sent a statement to FOX40 saying that the district will take steps to ensure that Ornelas “cannot enter the school grounds and that he is prohibited from contacting students, parents or other staff members.”

There was a car in the driveway at a listed address for Ornelas in Modesto, but no one answered to offer his side of the story.

Ashley Harvey doesn’t believe any explanation would make sense.

“It’s scandalous. It makes me feel uncomfortable, like I’m not safe at school,” she said.

Ornelas has worked for Modesto City schools for more than two years.

Police do not believe there are any other alleged victims in this case and are investigating the possibility that the relationship between Ornelas and the teen was romantic as well as sexual.

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