Former Tucson High wrestling coach convicted of sexually abusing girl

A former Tucson High School hall monitor and wrestling coach, Richard Ortiz, was found guilty on Wednesday in Superior Court of having sex with a 15-year-old special education student.

Ortiz, age 55, was convicted on four of sexual conduct with a minor.

On June 30, 2012, at approximately 11:38 p.m., Pima County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked in the area 6600 block of South Gila Avenue. In a parked van, they found Ortiz with the young student. Both were only partially dressed.

Ortiz had been a wrestling coach for Tucson High School until January, when he was removed due to reports of abusive behavior. Ortiz kept his job as a hall monitor, otherwise known in TUSD as a “student liaison.” In that position, he had unlimited access to children and was in a position of trust.

The girl, Ortiz’s victim was a member of the wrestling team and received private wrestling instruction from Ortiz until his arrest. His victim accompanied Ortiz to assist with setting up a special event. At the time Ortiz was supposed to return her back home, he instead took the girl to the south end of Gila Avenue, where he engaged in sexual activity with the juvenile.

Before the night of his arrest, Ortiz was removed from the Tucson High School gym by District security. Due to concerns about his “inappropriate behavior,” Ortiz no longer had permission to be in the wrestling weight lifting area. When challenged by a school administrator, Ortiz reportedly refused to leave. District security was called in to assist. Ortiz was relieved of duty as the school’s wrestling coach by THS Principal Abel Morado.

However, according to two district insiders, Morado had serious reasons to be concerned about Ortiz’s treatment of students. According to former THS employees, Morado has maintained a policy, over the years, of looking the other way. It was his duty to report activity that he suspected was illegal. No report was ever made.

However, it was Morado’s willingness to do almost anything to prevent bad publicity for the district, and of course his years of “dedicated service” to central administrators, that secured him a promotion to the district’s central administration later that year.