LAKE BLUFF, Ill. (WLS) --A former North Shore teacher is now under investigation in California and Illinois following allegations that he sexually abused dozens of students, a case first reported by the I-Team in November 2016.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Charles Ritz was a teacher in north suburban Lake Bluff. He then taught for 30 years in Southern California. He is now 66 years old and accused of sexually abusing dozens of students. One of his alleged victims spoke at a Lake Bluff School Board meeting Tuesday night.
The school board in La Habra, Calif., where Ritz worked has opened an investigation into the sexual abuse allegations, and the board in Lake Bluff was asked to start one.
"I am the first abuse victim of Charles Ritz in Lake Bluff," Jim Moss told the assembled audience Tuesday night.
Moss told the Lake Bluff School Board his darkest secret: that his teacher Charles Ritz molested him in 1978.
Moss asked that Ritz's conduct during his 10 years there be investigated by a special independent counsel, and he provided a petition signed by 300 former students, including, he said, at least 30 other victims.
"Charles Ritz is a predator: In a short span of a time in Lake Bluff Ritz progressed from providing students with pornography, alcohol and conducting inappropriate touching to conducting the most horrific acts imaginable," Moss said.
The I-Team has been investigating Ritz since 2016. When they went to visit him in Southern California he would not talk. But now the school district out there, where he retired last year after teaching math for three decades, is hiring a special investigator.
But the Lake Bluff School Board president said law enforcement has to do the investigating in the North Shore suburb, because the allegations are decades old.
"The school district is cooperating fully with the Lake Bluff Police Department and Lake County State's Attorney who are investigating the matter. We want the community to know that we take these allegations very seriously and we feel compassion and concern for anyone who may have been impacted," said Mark Barry, president of the Lake Bluff District 65 School Board.
"To sit and do nothing and hear a message of be patient, we've been patient for 30 or more years, we're getting a little tired of being told to be patient," Moss said.
Amid allegations of unacceptable behavior with students in 1985, Ritz was facing termination from the Lake Bluff schools and allowed to resign. He was paid $22,000 in going-away money, but back then the sex abuse allegations were apparently never reported to police, prosecutors or his next employer in California.
Charles Ritz did not return messages left at his Santa Ana, California home and on his cell phones.
A California attorney did contact the I-Team, saying it was on Mr. Ritz' behalf. "I won't be making any sort of statement and neither will he" said
Staycie Sena, who's criminal defense law firm is based in Irvine, California. According to her website, "Ms. Sena represents clients in Orange County with cases involving sex crimes" as well as various other legal problems.
READ: Jim Moss's full comments to the Lake Bluff School Board
READ: Stop Child Predators in Our Schools petition