Former Lake Bluff teacher pleads not guilty to indecency

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
LAKE BLUFF, Ill. (WLS) -- Former north suburban teacher Charles Ritz III entered a plea of not guilty on Wednesday to public indecency involving students more than 35-years ago, in a case the I-Team first reported last November.

Ritz was charged with indecency and lewd exposure with students while working as a teacher at Lake Bluff Junior High. The case began with allegations of sexual misconduct from students of his decades ago who are now middle-aged men.

"We don't have any comment" said Ritz' attorney Robert Deters after the court hearing in Lake County . "We've set the case for trial and we'll see what happens next" Deters said. There is a hearing next month and a trial date in late October.

As the I-Team reported late last year, Ritz' behavior in Lake Bluff was determined to have been "unacceptable" by the school board 30 years ago. But the board allowed him to resign with a 22-thousand dollar severance. Ritz moved to Southern California where he taught for the next 30-years. When ABC7 visited Ritz at his home outside Los Angeles he closed the door without answering questions.

Tonight police in Orange County, California say there is a separate investigation there of possible sexual misconduct with students.

Ritz declined to comment on the investigation Wednesday in Waukegan.
His attorney said that "it is always an issue when someone has to travel from out of state to make a court appearance."

The I-Team asked attorney Deters if Ritz would accept a plea deal to get out from underneath the misdemeanor charge?

"We have no plea offer at this time. The state's still working on it, we have no idea what they want" Deters said. "We're not considering anything at this time until we see all the evidence."

While it would not be unusual for this type of case to end in a guilty plea in exchange for leniency at sentencing, a spokesperson for the Lake County state's attorney told the I-Team late Wednesday that there has been no plea deal offered to Ritz.

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