A varsity football coach has been sentenced for reacting to an Orange Police investigation into his sexual relationship with an underage student by barricading himself inside an El Modena High School office with a loaded firearm.
A former La Habra High School math teacher pleaded guilty in Illinois to having taken some of his junior high students there to a home for a pizza party, where he masturbated in front of them while playing porn.
A Santa Ana High School activities director and wrestling coach was arrested on suspicion of statutory rape for an alleged eight-month, consensual sexual relationship with an underage girl.
A Stanton murder-rapist has his 2015 conviction upheld by the California Court of Appeal.
Michael James Snitzler pleaded guilty Thursday to felony possession of a firearm in a school zone and misdemeanor possession of ammunition on school property and unlawful sexual intercourse. The 27-year-old Santa Ana resident was immediately sentenced to nine months in county jail and five years of formal probation. He was an assistant varsity football coach at El Modena High this past February when he met a 17-year-old female student and began exchanging text messages with her. By the following month, they were having sex. A family member found out about the inappropriate relationship and contacted the Orange Police Department around 10:45 a.m. on April 23. Officers went to ElMo, where Snitzler locked himself in an office with the gun and ammo. After a 10-hour standoff, he surrendered to police. He was arrested around 8:30 p.m.
Charles Ritz III pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lake County Circuit Court to public indecency charges related to claims brought forward by Lake Bluff, Illinois, students who accused the teacher of abusing them during his employment in the 1970s and 1980s. In exchange for the plea, Ritz was sentenced to two years of probation with conditions that include no unsupervised contact with minors, no contact with victims named in the case, no use of drugs or alcohol, payment of $2,500 to the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center and $500 to Lake County Crime Stoppers. Prosecutors say that if Ritz fulfills the terms of probation, a 120-day jail sentence will be stayed. Ritz had recently retired from the Fullerton Joint Union High School District when he learned he had been charged in Illinois for what former students said happened to them in a Waukegan home in the 1980s. The incident was discovered by investigators looking into allegations that Ritz sexually abused one boy in the 1970s as well as another former student. The alleged victims came forward after discovering Ritz had been employed as a teacher in California for 30 more years after leaving Illinois.
That investigation sparked two more: one by police in La Habra and another by school district officials in Fullerton, where there is apparently no indication officials did a background check on Ritz’s employment in Illinois, which the teacher left as a criminal case was being made against him. By the time the alleged victims of the most serious allegations against Ritz discovered he was in California, the statute of limitations for prosecution had expired. However, the indecent exposure case could move forward because the crime happened shortly before Ritz left Illinois. He went on to teach math, coach soccer and advise the surf club over the next 25 years at La Habra High School. Ritz retired in May 2016. No allegations of misconduct have surfaced from his time in Orange County, although the investigation of the 66-year-old continues. To that end, child sexual abuse activists here and in Illinois have formed an alliance aimed at locating any possible victims.
Jaime Orendain has been accused by a female student, who no longer attends Santa Ana High School, of having had a consensual sexual relationship for eight months with the 34-year-old part-time wrestling coach and activities director. She was underage at the time of these encounters, many of which she says happened on campus during school hours, according to the Santa Ana Police Department. Orendain was made aware of the resulting investigation and immediately fled, telling school officials he was moving to San Antonio, Texas, police say. The 34-year-old also posted a video on Instagram that made friends and family believe he was suicidal, but he had fled when police went to his Santa Ana home to check on his welfare. After an extensive search, officers located Orendain in the riverbed near the 4000 block of West Segerstrom Avenue, say police, who arrested him without incident and booked him into Santa Ana Jail on suspicion of felony statutory rape, oral copulation and digital penetration. But detectives fear there may be more victims and ask anyone with information contact police Cpl. M. Lopez at 714.245.8542 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous tips may be left with Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.
Charles Patrick Drew had his special circumstances murder conviction and sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole affirmed last week by the California Fourth Appellate District, Division Three. The 67-year-old transient and registered sex offender was found guilty by a jury on Sept. 15, 2015, of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of rape, sodomy, oral copulation and sexual penetration by foreign object and one felony count each of rape of an unconscious person, sodomy of unconscious victim, oral copulation of unconscious person, sexual penetration by foreign object of unconscious victim and aggravated assault. The defendant’s two prior strike convictions for forcible rape and assault with a deadly weapon in Orange County in 1995 were found to be true. Superior Court Judge Steven D. Bromberg imposed the maximum sentence on Oct. 23, 2015. Sometime between March 17-18, 2012, Drew stayed with 29-year-old diabetic Amber Oceja in a Stanton Motel 6 room, under the guise that he was her caretaker. During that time, he brutalized while she was unconscious in a diabetic coma, including raping, sodomizing and oral copulating her as well as using a razor blade to mutilate several parts of her body. Drew then tried to clean up the room and dispose of the cleaning materials. On March 19, 2012, Drew walked outside of his motel room and asked someone to call 9-1-1 because Oceja was unresponsive. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department responded and launched an investigation. The county coroner concluded that the woman died due of natural cases (diabetic ketoacidosis) within two hours of the sexual assault. Assistant District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh acknowledged at trial that Oceja died of natural causes, but he based his prosecution on two legal theories that alleged Drew was responsible for her death because he failed to get her medical attention when she needed insulin. With its legal opinion last week, the Court of Appeal made legal precedent in California by establishing that the felony murder rule can be based on a defendant failing to perform a certain act, and not just based on doing a specific act. “Appellant is correct that the precedential landscape here is not lush,” reads the opinion. “We see no reason in law or logic why the felony murder rule, when otherwise applicable, cannot be applied when the victim dies as a result of inaction by defendant.” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas hailed the decision as “a great victory for crime victims and prosecutors throughout the state.”