Former OPS security guard facing felony charges of child sex assault
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A former security guard for Omaha Public Schools is facing two counts of felony first-degree sexual assault of a child, according to court documents filed earlier this month.
Ronald Powell, 52, was arrested Monday and faces charges regarding the sexual assault a girl aged 12-16 in October 2015 while he was working as a security guard at Omaha North High School, according to documents filed Feb. 5 in Douglas County Court.
The charges came after the girl, now attending college in another state, came forward in December 2019 and led investigators to evidence of the encounters in December 2020, the documents state.
Initially hired by OPS in December 2014 as a coach, Powell became a full-time security guard at Omaha North the following March. According to court documents, an OPS official said Powell was fired in August 2016 after repeated violations of the school district’s policy on student interactions and instances of “poor judgment,” such as taking photographs with students and providing his cell number to two females students.
The official said “he would attempt to counsel students who were having personal problems, which is not within the scope of his job description,” court documents state. A school district report also identified two female students Powell had “inappropriate relationships with,” and that both students had “corroborated these unwanted advances.”
Omaha Police said in a news release Thursday afternoon that Powell also worked with Omaha Bryan High School as a volunteer girls basketball coach as late as January 2020. The high school released him from the position after they were made aware of the investigation, the OPD release states.
One of the alleged victims said in an interview with authorities in November 2019 that she’d had what she thought was a consensual committed relationship with Powell, and that at one time he had helped her get an abortion.
She told authorities that she lost her virginity to Powell after an escalating relationship with him starting in October 2015, the documents state. She told investigators that the two of them would regularly meet in a “book closet” — which was reportedly locked and only accessible by staff — to talk and kiss, and that those encounters led to further sexual activity just before she turned 16.
After she turned 16, she said, Powell reserved hotel rooms for them to meet and have sex in, telling her she deserved better than the closet. Court documents state that she told authorities that she got pregnant in April 2017 and that Powell took her to Planned Parenthood for an abortion, pretending to be her father in order to obtain an abortion pill for the girl.
She said she stayed silent about the relationship until she was in college because “she felt responsible for protecting Powell and she felt she was in a legitimate health relationship that she was committed to,” court documents state. Later, she said, she realized that the experience robbed her of her high school experiences; still affected by the ordeal, she said she wanted to “make sure he does not do this to any other young girls.”
The case was put on pause when the alleged victim was unable to participate in the investigation after authorities asked her to accompany them to the book closet to help them search for evidence, the documents state. She reached out about a year after she came forward to help the case move forward, and led authorities to a flag in the closet she said Powell would lay sweatshirts on before they had sex.
When meeting with authorities in January 2021, Powell said he never had inappropriate relationships with any students because he was married at the time. Court documents state that during the course of the conversation with investigators, he admitted to having Facebook conversations with the victim, but denied having a sexual relationship with her or having sex with anyone in the book closet.
Lab analysis of the flag found DNA material from four people, according to the documents. Powell declined to voluntarily take a DNA test at that time, so a warrant was issued for the test. Lab results did not exclude him as a “contributor to the DNA profile” collected in evidence, the court documents state.
Recognizing the trauma and emotional hardship victims experience, OPD encouraged anyone who has experienced a sexual assault, regardless of how long ago the incident occurred, to call 911.
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