Indicted coach to leave state to tape 'Geraldo!'

April 22, 1993|By Kris Antonelli and Peter Hermann | Kris Antonelli and Peter Hermann,Staff Writers

The Northeast High School teacher accused of having sex with three of his students was ordered held on home detention yesterday, but will be allowed to leave the state for eight hours to tell his story on the "Geraldo!" show.

Judge Vincent A. Mulieri granted the odd request after a long bail review hearing. He ordered Ronald Walter Price to post $10,000 bond to ensure that he returns to Maryland.

The judge denied a request for psychiatric counseling, however, saying he is sure that will be done before trial. He ordered Mr. Price to stay away from anyone under the age of 18 and said he must remain on home detention.

The 49-year-old teacher faces charges of child sexual abuse and performing perverted sex practices in connection with three girls since 1982. In one case, a 16-year-old girl told police she had a sexual relationship with Mr. Price for 18 months, beginning when she was 14. The other cases involve girls who were 16 at the time, but graduated several years ago.

During yesterday's hearing, Mr. Price's lawyers argued that their client was denied due process because a court commissioner improperly held him without bail Tuesday.

That caused the 49-year-old teacher, who has refused to speak to reporters, to miss a taping of "Geraldo!" in New York yesterday afternoon and prompted his lawyers to accuse police with filing additional charges to gag Mr. Price.

Mr. Price, who also was the school's softball and drama coach, has admitted through his lawyers to "the factual basis of the criminal charges" in the case of the current student. But he denies criminal responsibility, claiming school officials knew he had a problem, but ignored it.

On Tuesday, school Superintendent C. Berry Carter II suspended Mr. Price without pay and said he will recommend to the school board that Mr. Price be fired.

Last night, Timothy Umbreit, one of Mr. Price's lawyers, said two other teachers had been having sex with students at Mr. Price's home and even had keys.

Mr. Umbreit has accused school officials with knowing about his client's indiscretions and tolerating those of other teachers at the Pasadena school.

In a segment of the syndicated television show "A Current Affair," which aired on WBAL-TV last night, Mr. Price said he once stopped getting counseling because it conflicted with softball practice.

He said his liaisons with students started with "a hug, an arm over a shoulder, come over here and give me a hug, a kiss on the forehead, a kiss on the cheek and then a real kiss."

The national media attention this case has been receiving found its way into the courtroom yesterday.

Assistant State's Attorney William C. Mulford read part of a Baltimore Sun article quoting Mr. Price -- who has admitted to having sex with at least five teen-age girls -- saying he doesn't understand his disorder.

Mr. Mulford used that statement to ask the judge to hold Mr. Price without bail until psychological testing can be completed.

But Mr. Umbreit said the danger only exists when the teacher is around girls.

"His problem is that he has been in school teaching under-aged students," Mr. Umbreit said. "That risk can be eliminated. He is not going to teach."

Mr. Price, in a brief statement, pleaded to be let out of jail until his trial. "I am not going anywhere," he said. "I am going to be here for the trial when I'm supposed to be. I'm not going to hurt anybody and I'm not a violent person."

While the judge allowed Mr. Price to leave the state for the "Geraldo!" show, the status of today's taping was unclear last night because of weather conditions and paperwork delays in securing Mr. Price's release from the county detention center.

Geraldo Rivera, in a telephone interview from his New York dressing room, blamed the police and school system for Mr. Price missing the show.

"I'm not going to allow the police and school officials to stop us from telling his story," the talk-show host said. "They are trying to cut their losses and stop further embarrassment. What I want to know is when did school officials know and what, if anything, have they done about this."

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