Former American Idol contestant Ron Bultongez has been arrested and charged with the alleged sexual assault of a minor. The Plano, Texas native, who appeared on the ABC singing competition in 2018, turned himself in to authorities in Grapevine, Texas on Thursday, July 15, police confirmed to TMZ. According to the Tarrant County District Attorney's court documents, Bultongez was charged with four counts of sexual penetration of a minor under the age of 17 for incidents that occurred between December 2020 and February 2021.
Following his arrest, Bultongez spent several days in police custody. He was later released after posting his $50,000 bond. Bultongez has not yet made a court appearance in connection to the case, and it is unclear when his first court appearance may take place. At this time, Bultongez has not publicly addressed the allegations against him. A representative for American Idol and Tarrant County's public information officer did not immediately respond to In Touch Weekly's requests for comment. In Touch also reported that it remains unclear if Bultongez has obtained legal representation who can speak on his behalf.
The musician notably competed on Season 16 of the popular singing competition. Despite being from Texas, Bultongez, then 21, auditioned for the show in New York, wowing the judges with a performance of James Bay's "Let It Go." In an interview ahead of his audition, Bultongez said, "This chance at American Idol means I can make a lifelong career out of my music and show my son what can happen if you follow your dreams." However, Bultongez was nearly eliminated from the competition when judge Lionel Richie initially voted "no" before changing his vote to a "yes." Bultongez went on to make it into the Top 24 after singing "Home" by Phillip Phillips and "All I Want" by Kodaline in the Solo Rounds and Showcase Round, though he was eliminated after singing "Dancing on My Own" by Robyn and "Someone to You" by Banners.
Since his elimination, Bultongez has continued to perform at large local venues, though in an interview with the Dallas Observer in July 2020, he opened up about the commercial fallout of his appearance on the ABC show, explaining that he was blocked from releasing new music. According to Bultongez, he had been in contracts with Hollywood Records and Sony RCA UK, though they both let him go. Bultongez said he was "tied down for about two years. Those post-TV show contracts are brutal. I dealt with a bunch of crap that kept me from releasing anything."
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.