Teacher charged in 2 new cases Arrest means he misses 'Geraldo!'

April 21, 1993|By Kris Antonelli and Peter Hermann | Kris Antonelli and Peter Hermann,Staff Writers

The day before he was scheduled to tape an appearance on "Geraldo!" a Northeast High School teacher charged with having sexual relations with one teen-age student was charged with sexually abusing two more yesterday and ordered held in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center without bail.

Outraged attorneys for Ronald Walter Price, 49, held a news conference in front of the Glen Burnie courthouse as the social studies teacher and softball coach was being handcuffed and led away to jail.

"What has happened to Mr. Price is nothing more than a bald-faced attempt to gag our client," attorney Jonathan Resnick said. "It is well-known that our client was to go on TV and tell his side of the story in a controlled format. And what do they do? They bring charges that are 7 years old and they deny him bail.

"To say that it is a coincidence is an outrage," he said.

Mr. Price, a county teacher for 25 years, has admitted through his lawyer to "the factual basis of the criminal charges" in the earlier case but denies criminal responsibility. His attorneys said they had yet to discuss with their client the latest charges, two counts of sexual child abuse and two counts of performing unnatural and perverted sex practices.

Commissioner James C. Spriggs said he was required by law to revoke bail because Mr. Price already was out on a $5,000 bond on similar charges filed earlier this month. He is scheduled for a bail review in front of a judge this morning.

Mr. Price was to appear at a taping of "Geraldo!" in New York this afternoon for a segment scheduled to air April 28. The syndicated television show "A Current Affair" is scheduled to air an interview with Mr. Price today.

"There was absolutely no conspiracy to keep him from going on a television show," said Lt. Mike McNally, head of the county Police Department's Crimes Against Persons Section. "We are obligated by law to enforce child-abuse complaints."

School officials released a statement yesterday saying school Superintendent C. Berry Carter has suspended Mr. Price without pay and will recommend that the Board of Education fire him. Mr. Price's lawyers have said they will appeal any suspension, meaning he will continue to draw a salary until the case is resolved.

Court documents filed yesterday allege Mr. Price had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl from March to November 1987, and with another student between September 1982 and February 1984, when she was 16 and 17 years old. The documents allege the acts began with "touching, kissing, fondling" and eventually led to intercourse. The alleged trysts took place in the school's audio visual room, social studies office, a loft in the stage rafters, costume room and girls' dressing room.

On April 8, he was charged with a fourth-degree sex offense, one count of child abuse and one count of performing unnatural and perverted sex practices. A 16-year-old girl told police she had been involved with Mr. Price, also Northeast's boys' soccer and drama coach, since she was 14 years old.

"I have stated before that I have some kind of illness," Mr. Price told reporters in front of the Glen Burnie District Court building yesterday. "I have something that I still do not understand. I want to get it straightened out. I haven't got a clue as to what it is."

Mr. Price, who lives in the 200 block of W. Edgevale Drive in Brooklyn Park, has been married three times -- twice to former students. One of his attorneys, Timothy Umbreit, admitted his client had sexual relations with four girls over 10 years, including his two wives. He said those admissions do not include the girls involved in yesterday's charges.

Last week, county police said they investigated Mr. Price in 1989 after a school official told them a girl alleged the teacher sexually harassed her. The case was dropped when the girl refused to talk to authorities.

Mr. Price's lawyers not only charge that school officials knew about their client's disorder but tolerated other teachers who had sexual relationships with students. School officials released a statement yesterday afternoon denying Mr. Carter knew about Mr. Price's problems and pledging to cooperate with the police investigation.

Mr. Price's lawyers were planning to hold a news conference to offer proof of their claims that other teachers are sexually involved with students and that school officials knew about Mr. Price's disorder. But yesterday they said the news conference may be on hold because of the new charges.

The lawyers also said police had indicated that they would seek a gag order to stop them from talking.

"The school board and the Police Department are very much concerned about the publicity," Mr. Umbreit said. "I think the school and the school board will look bad when he tells his story."

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