Former day care worker sentenced for sexual abuse

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by KTVB & Stephanie Zepelin

NWCN.com

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 11:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 4:32 AM

CALDWELL -- A former day care employee in Canyon County who admitted he sexually abused two dozen children has been sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.

Joshua Ritchie pleaded guilty in December to a dozen sex crimes including lewd conduct with a minor, sexual abuse of a minor and sexual exploitation of a child. The charges stem from 2007 to 2012.

Ritchie spoke at the sentencing Thursday about what he has done to 24 boys, many who went to the daycare where he worked.

"My heart breaks again each time I think of the people I've let down. I've done some inexcusable things and will have to live the rest of my life with that knowledge," said Ritchie.

Ritchie, who said he was abused as a child, praised the boys who spoke out.

"If I'd spoken up and stopped what was happening to me, we would not be here today. So I thank the boys for bringing this to an end," he said.

Detectives said that in August 2012 they began investigating Ritchie after a 5-year-old boy said his day care provider abused him.

Ritchie worked at Cornerstone Childcare and Learning Center in Nampa, the Idaho Arts Charter School in Nampa, and as a lunchroom worker with the Nampa School District.

Investigators said in August that some of the victims were touched at the day care, while others were family friends and family members.

In December 2012, Ritchie pleaded guilty to multiple felonies for inappropriate sexual conduct with young boys.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erica Kallin said they were pleased with his sentence, because it helps protect other potential victims.

"This isn't something they make up and if your child comes forward and discloses, believe your child," Kallin said.
   
Many of the parents who spoke wanted harsher sentences for a crime they said will affect their children for the rest of their lives.

The mother of two victims said, "I hope the courts will do what I couldn't do as a parent. I hope the courts will recognize the sickness that pervades our community and keep one more sexual predator out of our homes."

The father of two victims cried as he said, "Their innocence is lost and we can never give that back to our children. Josh can never give that back to our children."

Ritchie apologized after hearing tearful speeches from parents of victims.

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said there is a lesson to be learned in this about sexual predators.

"They could be people you know, they could be people that are close to you, they could be people in your schools, in your day cares. And it's so important to listen to these young people," said Donahue.

The boys were ages four to 14 when the abuse happened. The County says there is no evidence the daycare providers were aware of the abuse.

The Canyon County Sheriff's Office had also said they confiscated two media devices from Ritchie that contained child pornography.

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