Austin man sentenced to life in child sex trafficking case

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — An Austin man who carried out a continued relationship with a 13-year-old girl was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday by a Hays County jury.

Robert Ritz, 44, met the child through social media and committed sexual offenses with the girl while in the presence of a 12-year-old. The sexual relationship then continued outside of the girl’s home and at Ritz’s house in Austin.

Investigators also found several sexually explicit conversations between Ritz and the girl, including offers to run away with her.

Authorities said Ritz continued to contact the girl even after being made aware of an investigation into the relationship, and wrote two letters to the girl while he was in custody expressing his obsession with the girl in hopes of swaying her testimony.

Because of legislation passed in September 2011, a first-time offender can receive harsh penalties for continuously trafficking a person — including life in prison without parole. The underlying trafficking crimes include forced labor and compelled prostitution in addition to child sex assault.

In order to be convicted of trafficking a person must “transport, entice, recruit, harbor, provide, or otherwise obtain another by any means and commit two or more acts of abuse over a period of time greater than 30 days.”

The conviction for this type of offense was the first of its kind in Hays County.

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