Orange County deputy arrested, relieved of duty for soliciting minor: Deputies

An Orange County Sheriff's Deputy was arrested on Friday on charges of soliciting a minor over the internet, deputies said. 

Charles Cruz, 35, was "relieved of all law enforcement duties without pay" after he made inappropriate contact with a minor who was a victim of sexual cyber harassment.

On Feb. 19, Cruz responded to a call for service at the home of a minor who was already working with the Orange County Sheriff's Office Sex Crimes Unit because she had been a victim of sexual cyber harassment. 

The call to the home was related to a report of someone throwing an object through a window of the girl's home, possibly the suspect in the cyber harassment case. 

During Cruz's investigation, he made "inappropriate contact with the minor victim" by text message that became more inappropriate as he tried to gauge the minor’s interest in meeting him in person, deputies said. 

The OCSO Sex Crimes Unit found the text messages while examining the girl's phone in connection to her case. 

A detective took over the girl's phone and continued conversing with Cruz who made sexually explicit comments to the girl. He was located, relieved of duty, arrested, and transported to the Orange County Jail. 

"These are very serious criminal allegations, and there is no place in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for anyone that would abuse their power to victimize a minor. To make matters worse, this deputy preyed on a young woman who was already a victim of sexual cyberharassment," said Sheriff John Mina. "As law enforcement officers, we are held to the highest standards of conduct whether on duty or off duty. He will never patrol the streets of Orange County again."

Cruz was hired in August 2021 and worked in the uniform patrol division.