LAKE BLUFF — A man accused of abusing Lake Bluff teenagers nearly 40 years ago pled guilty to a charge of public indecency stemming from an investigation of events involving Lake Bluff Junior High students between 1975 and 1985.
Charles Ritz III entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of public indecency August 30 in Lake County Criminal Court in Waukegan, receiving a 120-day sentence in Lake County Jail and a host of other requirements imposed by Judge Helen Rozenberg.
Rozenberg stayed the jail time provided Ritz meets all other conditions imposed during his two years of probation, according to Cynthia Vargas, the communications manager for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office.
Ritz was arrested in May and surrendered at the Lake County Jail May 15, according to a May 16 DailyNorthShore article. The story actually began in the decade Ritz taught at what is now Lake Bluff Middle School, according to a November 3, 2016 DNS story.
The tale of Ritz’s prosecution started when a group of his former students who claimed they were abused by him started a Facebook page in June 2016 to gather information and bring him to justice, according to Jim Moss, a Lake Bluff resident who said he was one of the victims.
“Would I like to see a harsher punishment, yes,” said Moss in a DNS interview. “But the outcome was very favorable. It was a long road on the journey to justice. In the end it turned out very well.”
With the suspended sentence, Ritz was ordered by the court to make a $2,500 donation to the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center and a $500 contribution to Crime Stoppers, according to Vargas.
Vargas said Ritz cannot use drugs or alcohol, have any contact with named victims or witnesses, cannot have unsupervised contact with minors, and must perform 150 hours of community service. He also must submit to whatever treatment, if any, the Lake County Department of Probation deems appropriate.
Moss said the fight is not over for him and his group. They want Lake Bluff School District 65 to take steps to ensure a teacher or anyone else affiliated with the school can never abuse children.
“Thirteen and 14 year old boys came forward and you would have thought that would have been enough but it took all this,” said Moss referring to the events of his youth. “We still feel steps need to be taken by Lake Bluff Schools. We are more energized than ever.”