Ex-Lake Bluff teacher now facing police investigation in California

ABC 7 I-Team Investigation
LAKE BLUFF, Ill. (WLS) -- On the heels of a criminal charge in his former home state of Illinois, the I-Team has learned that former Lake Bluff teacher Charles Ritz is also under police investigation in California where he currently lives.

Ritz, 66, is free on $100,000 bond in Lake County after being charged with public indecency/lewd exposure. According to charging documents obtained by the I-Team, Ritz exposed himself "in a lewd manner with the intent to arouse his sexual desires" at a residence in Waukegan in May 1985.

Now police in La Habra, California, southeast of Los Angeles, say that Ritz is also under investigation there for possible sexual misconduct with students during the 30-years he worked as a teacher in the Fullerton district. The I-Team has been told by sources familiar with the case that potential witnesses are being interviewed by law enforcement officers in California.

Ritz relocated to Southern California after leaving Lake Bluff in 1985. Several of his ex-students at Lake Bluff Junior High School told the I-Team that they had been sexually exploited by Ritz when they were teenagers. The men, now in their late 40's, decided to go public last November with what they say Ritz did to them. The former Lake Bluff teacher would not discuss the allegations when the I-Team visited his home last November.

The I-Team reported last fall that parents had made complaints to District 65 school officials in 1985 about the "highly questionable sexual behavior of Mr. Ritz." District officials moved to fire him, according to records obtained by ABC7, having determined there had been "unacceptable behavior" by the teacher. Nevertheless he was allowed to resign and even paid more than $22,000 on the way out of the door-and police say they were never notified.

The statute of limitations in Illinois was apparently frozen when Ritz left the state for California. That cleared the way for Lake County State's Attorney Michael G. Nerheim to file an indecency charge against him last week even though the alleged criminal conduct was 32 years ago.

After traveling from California and surrendering to authorities in Lake County Ritz spent more than 24 hours behind bars waiting for his bond to be posted.

"We have no comment at this time, thank you very much," Ritz attorney Robert Deters said as the men left Lake County jail on Tuesday evening. A man believed to be Ritz' brother had arrived a short time earlier to post 10 percent of the $100,000 bond set in the case. Under Ritz' bail terms, he has been ordered to stay away from and school property, daycares or parks and is forbidden from unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18.
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