Police investigated coach once before

April 14, 1993|By Peter Hermann and Carol L. Bowers | Peter Hermann and Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writers

A Northeast High School softball coach and social studies teacher accused of sexually abusing one of his students was investigated in 1989 because of similar allegations, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.

The alleged victim refused to talk to detectives, and authorities were forced to drop the case without filing criminal charges, said Sgt. Robert Tice, head of the child abuse unit.

"She adamantly refused to talk to us and she denied it," Sergeant Tice said. "No victim, no crime."

Police said they sought out the youth after receiving a complaint from school officials.

Ronald Walter Price, 49, of the 200 block of Edgevale Road in Brooklyn Park, was charged last week with a fourth-degree sex offense, child abuse and performing perverted sex practices.

The charges stem from the complaint of a 16-year-old student at the Pasadena school, who told authorities she had been engaged in a consensual relationship with Mr. Price since she was 14.

Mr. Price, a teacher for 25 years who also was the boys' soccer and drama coach, has been placed on unpaid administrative leave.

Mr. Price's attorney distributed a news release Monday saying that his client admits to "the factual basis of the criminal charges," but denies criminal responsibility.

The release also describes Mr. Price, who has been married three times -- twice to former students -- as a victim. It said he suffers from a disorder school officials have known about "for some time."

Capt. Michael P. Fitzgibbons, head of the criminal investigation unit, said the girl involved in the 1989 complaint told school officials about the alleged abuse.

"It was more of a sexual harassment thing as opposed to something physical," he said. "It did not constitute child abuse. We have thoroughly checked our file. That is the only contact we have had with this guy."

School board spokeswoman Nancy Jane Adams said School Superintendent C. Berry Carter II "has not been made aware" of previous accusations.

Chris Kirby, immediate past president of the Northeast Citizens Advisory Council, said parents had raised questions about Mr. Price to administrators 18 months ago, when police claim Mr. Price's relationship with the student began.

"I understand there are more and more parents coming forward and saying things like 'I knew he did this to my daughter and I just stopped sending her to drama,' " Mr. Kirby said. "People have been trying to tell the administration that it seemed awfully strange that this teacher was spending all this time with one student."

One of Mr. Price's lawyers, Jonathan S. Resnick, said his client does not want to be interviewed by newspaper reporters, but has chosen to air his side on the syndicated television programs "A Current Affair" and "The Montel Williams Show."

"He has been tried in the newspapers," Mr. Resnick said, declining to answer questions about the case. "This way he will be able to set the record straight in a format that is uncontested."

Carolyn Roeding, president of the County Council of PTAs, said she refused to go on the Williams show, believing Mr. Price's scheduled appearance was "further exploitation of the child.

"They didn't want to take 'no' for an answer," she said. "They said, 'We can't find a caring parent anywhere,' and I told them if they really cared, they wouldn't air the show."

Police said they would have a more complete picture of the case tomorrow or Friday, after interviewing the dozen or more alleged victims who have called them since the arrest last week.

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