ONLY ON 13: Referee suing Montgomery County in effort to clear his name

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Man files lawsuit after charges dropped, Tracy Clemons reports. (KTRK)

In 2013, Montgomery County prosecutors charged Brian Ortiz with improper relationship between an educator and student. That charge was dismissed in September, almost three and a half years after it was filed. A lawsuit he filed in federal court claims the serious and possibly irreparable damage was done long ago.

"The stigma of something like this stays with you forever," Ortiz tells Eyewitness News.

In 2013, Brian Ortiz met an 18-year old Caney Creek High School student he says he met on a dating app.

"I want to say in total we probably dated for about a month and a half," he says.

Then 25 years old, Ortiz worked full-time as a banker. Part-time, he was a referee for high school sports contracted through Houston TASO Basketball Officials Association, Houston TASO Football Officials Association, and Houston Basketball Officials Association.

While dating the student, he found out the student also had a relationship with a Conroe ISD police sergeant, who was a long-time friend of the student's family. Ortiz told his mother, and she reported it.

That sergeant was arrested. And soon after, police marched into Ortiz's bank and arrested him.

"I was fired from the job I was working at the time," he says.

He was also fired from other jobs while he waited for his case to work its way through court.

Prosecutors claimed he met the student at a game he refereed at Caney Creek High. He says that never happened.

"He had no type of ties to the school district," says his attorney Chuck Egbuonu. "He had no type of ties to the school at all aside from him being a part-time referee."

Egbuonu filed a federal lawsuit on Ortiz's behalf Tuesday. It names Montgomery County, District Attorney Brett Ligon, and two of his Assistant District Attorneys including newly-elected judge Phil Grant.

"I wasn't able to travel. Wasn't able to live certain places," Ortiz says. "I had a lot of trouble finding a place to live other than with my parents. A lot of trouble finding a job."

The charge was quietly dismissed in September. Now he says the DA's Office needs to be accountable for the trouble this case brought into his life. The lawsuit cites financial losses, loss of employment, and mental damage such as anxiety.

"A lot of times things like this get swept under the rug. And I want people to know it could've just as easily been them that was wrongfully and maliciously prosecuted. It could've been them that was struggling to find a job and live for three and a half years."

We reached out to the DA's Office and to Judge Phil Grant. He couldn't comment, as he's yet to be served. The DA's Office did not return our call.
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