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San Fernando Police Chief On Leave Over Cadet Sex Charges

SAN FERNANDO (CBS) — The chief of the San Fernando Police Department was placed on administrative leave Friday amid an investigation into charges that he had a sexual relationship with a cadet who claims she was later forced out of the agency.

Former San Fernando police explorer and cadet Maria Barajas wrote a letter to the San Fernando City Council last month claiming she had a sexual relationship with then-Lt. Anthony Ruelas beginning in November 2008, the San Fernando Sun reported.

"During the course of that relationship, Ruelas and I exchanged approximately 1,500 e-mails and over 1,000 text messages," Barajas wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Sun.

"A significant portion of this correspondence was of a personal and sexual nature and was conducted during work hours," Barajas added. "It was also conducted using department computers and Ruelas' department issued cell phone."

Barajas also contended she had a sexual encounter with Ruelas inside a department-issued vehicle, the Sun reported.

Ruelas did not return calls from the Sun seeking comment.

In her complaint, Barajas claimed that Ruelas began suggesting to her in summer 2009 that she should leave the department, saying she needed a "change of scenery."

Barajas said she was later in a vehicle with other police explorers that was involved in an accident. Ruelas and Lt. Jeff Eley determined that she was at fault, even though she was not driving, because she was the oldest person in the vehicle, Barajas contended.

Ruelas and Eley gave her the option of resigning or being fired, she said. Barajas said she chose to resign, but then-Chief Robert Ordelheide issued a memo saying she had been fired — making it difficult for her to find employment with another police agency, the Sun reported.

She contended in her letter that her firing was prompted by Ruelas' concerns about their sexual relationship being discovered — at a time when he was being considered as a replacement for the retiring Ordelheide.

Her letter asked that Ruelas be removed as chief, and that her status be changed from fired to resigned, the Sun reported.

Interim City Administrator Al Hernandez told the Sun that "a third-party investigator" had been brought in to review the situation.

"We will do what's good for the residents and the city," Hernandez told the paper.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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