November 2008

Social worker jailed after sex with school girl

A sick social worker, recruited to work with vulnerable children, is today behind bars after having a sexual relationship with a school girl.

Thomas Ritzler, 28, who worked for Surrey County Council’s children’s complex needs team, was jailed for two years and four months.

The German pervert admitted the relationship with a 14-year-old girl at Guildford Crown Court on Friday.

Ritzler, who played basketball in his spare time with children in Reigate’s Priory Park, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child.

Prosecuting, William Eaglestone, said: “The girl visited his flat several times on two occasions in June and July this year.

“They had ‘sex with all the stuff’ as the teenager put it.”

Devious, Ritzler had the girl believe he was a professional American Football player and only in his early 20s.

The court heard how Ritzler initially thought the girl was 15 before she confessed her true age.

Despite this, Ritzler, of Reigate Road, Reigate, snuck her into his flat through the back door the next day and had sex with her for a second time.

He also persuaded her to lie to the police when questioned about the relationship.

Mr Eaglestone said: “She promised Mr Ritzler she would lie for him and he said no matter what the police said she should lie.”

He told police he “never intended” to have a sexual relationship with the underage girl and always “regretted it afterwards”.

He said in interview: “When things like this happen there is a certain rush where you forget who you are, where you are and what you are doing”.

The prosecution added these offences had no connection with his work.

Raymond Barnett defending said: “He is deeply ashamed and deeply remorseful of his actions”.

He told the judge that Ritzler did not have any “particular interest” in sex with children but felt isolated in this country.

He added that Ritzler had an adult partner in Germany to whom he would be returning upon his release.

Sentencing, Judge Neil Stewart said: “It’s a fact this young girl consented and fully co-operated, but this legislation is specifically designed to protect young people from sexual activity with older men.

“They are simply not in a position emotionally to deal with it as an adult.”

He added: “In my judgement this was opportunistic offending rather than predatory.”

Ritzler was jailed for two years and four months on each count to run concurrently, placed on the sex offenders register for ten years and disqualified from working with children.

He was made subject to a sexual offences prevention order which indefinitely stops him living or sleeping in the same property as an under 18 year old.

The order also bans Ritzler allowing anyone under 18 on to his premises and prevents him loitering in areas where under 18’s may congregate.

The 119 days he has spent in custody will count toward his sentence.