NEW: Former Teacher Indicted
HARRISONBURG — A Rockingham County grand jury indicted a former Page County High School teacher accused of having an inappropriate relationship with is a 16-year-old male student at the school.
Harrisonburg resident Christopher Robert Ritchie Jr., who goes by his nickname, “C.J.,” was indicted today on two felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in a custodial or supervisory position.
Following his indictment, Ritchie appeared in Rockingham County Circuit Court with his attorney, Walter Green.
Green asked Judge Bruce Albertson to schedule a plea hearing. Albertson scheduled it for May 19.
Albertson ordered that a magistrate judge set a bond for Ritchie, who previously was free on a $10,000 bond from the Rockingham County Jail.
Ritchie was originally arrested in November by Mike Wagoner, a Page County Sheriff's Office investigator working with the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Prosecutors say the crime took place in Rockingham County.
On Nov. 1, Ritchie, who was then a foreign language teacher at PCHS, met the student at Valley Mall in Harrisonburg, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in Rockingham County Circuit Court by Wagoner. The teacher and student then went to Ritchie's home on Ridgeville Lane in Harrisonburg, where they watched movies and later had sex, according to the affidavit.
Ritchie confessed to the allegations, police say.
Sources close to the investigation say Ritchie targeted and groomed one of the most vulnerable students at the school. Sources say the victim didn't have an easy childhood and was living with his grandparents when the crime took place.
The investigation began when a school employee suspicious of Ritchie went to police.
As part of the investigation, police seized Ritchie’s iPhone.
“Mr. Ritchie and the juvenile indicated they communicated via text messages, chat programs and they had exchanged digital photographs,” Wagoner wrote.
He is no longer employed by the school system.
Ritchie, a Broadway High School graduate, was a 2009 recipient of the Daily News-Record Leadership Award.