VALPARAISO | A 20-year-old man with Down syndrome man was determined to be competent to testify against the caregiver charged with sexually abusing him.
Porter Superior Judge Bill Alexa issued the ruling in the case against 58-year-old Valparaiso resident Michael Ritchie.
Ritchie's defense attorney, Bob Harper, had sought to prohibit the purported victim from testifying.
Alexa said there was no medical evidence to prevent the man from testifying.
Ritchie is accused of fondling and performing other sex acts on the man, who lived at a group home operated by InPact Inc. in the 3100 block of Heavilin Road.
The grandmother stated her grandson was a resident of the home from 2004 to July 2009, during which time she became uncomfortable with Ritchie taking boys on trips and doing other things without other caregivers being present.
Police spoke to the grandson and he stated he and another resident of the group home played "Santa Claus" -- the name that was used for the sex act -- in Ritchie's office.
Ritchie told police he worked with InPact for 20 years -- managing a group home for five males ages 15 to 20 -- but he denied anything sexual occurred.
Alexa recently reduced Ritchie's bond from $75,000 surety and $25,000 cash to $5,000 surety after he served a year behind bars on charges of criminal deviate conduct and sexual battery.