Slime pickings: Accused teacher does 'Geraldo!'


April 30, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

As a public service, I offer you the example of Ron Price -- the man who would be Joey Buttafuoco -- and hope you can learn from him. I know I have.

Here's the deal.

You're an Anne Arundel high school teacher. You have sex with a number of your students, some as young as 14 years old. You get caught.

And now, what's the first thing you do?

That's right. Very good. You claim you have a sickness. This is known in the trade as the Four Tops defense -- Can't Help Myself.

And then, as if to prove you're mentally unbalanced, you go on "Geraldo!" -- the man who would be, well, himself. You can't get any more Geraldo than Geraldo, if you know what I mean, and I think Bette Midler does.

Anyway, maybe our boy Ron's got a case. Anybody who would go on the air with Geraldo, America's own sleaze-meister, the man whose show cannot possibly be watched without taking a shower immediately afterward, has got to be sick.

Have you watched "Geraldo!"? Here's a typical topic: Women Who Sleep with Their Auto Mechanics and Still Get Overcharged.

Every show is either about sex or someone who performs home surgery on herself, or both.

Why do people go on these shows? Do Americans have some irresistible urge -- a sickness, some would say -- to be publicly humiliated? I guess the answer is that people will do anything to be on TV, or how else do you explain "Studs?"

What does Price possibly get out of this appearance?

Maybe he thinks he's getting a movie deal. He's not. Did you look at the guy? I mean, who plays him -- Don Knotts? Joey Buttafuoco's got a certain tight-pants, if-you-like-your-man-sleazy charisma going for him. Ron Price looks like a high school softball coach, which is what he is.

You can see why he might date 14-year-olds. This is not a person destined to be a great success in singles bars.

So, no movie. A book? What's the book -- "How to Get Girls Who Still Say 'Neat' "? Is there a big market for that for guys, like, you know, like over 16?

Face it, Price is getting bubkes, except maybe some jail time.

(Unless he gets Tom Bollinger as a trial judge. You remember Bollinger. He's the Baltimore County judge who gave the guy probation for raping a woman who was drunk and unconscious, saying she had "facilitated" the act. Bollinger also said that finding a woman in this condition in your bed was "the dream of a lot of men." One question: What kind of men does the judge hang out with? A better question: What's Bollinger doing as a judge? I can see him in the Price case: "Sleeping with a 14-year-old is the dream of a lot of men.")

There was a time when, if you did something bad, you might feel embarrassed. When they take pictures of you, leading you away in handcuffs, you've got your jacket up over your head to spare your family any more humiliation.

Now, you don't hide; you go on tour. "A Current Affair" stops by the house. Geraldo gets to call you a pervert, and you get to say, well, not a pervert exactly, just a dirty old man.

I watched. I had to -- it's my job. Price, 49, explained to Geraldo that he couldn't help himself when it comes to sleeping with teen-agers. "It just happened" were his exact words. Of course, everything today can be explained by some compulsion or addiction, and I'm sure there's a self-help group Price can join.

Bob Packwood allegedly harasses all those women. Why? Because he's an alcoholic.

Marie Antoinette. An eating disorder, right? Captain Hook? The clock drove him nuts.

Or it's the system's fault. This is the Officer Krupke syndrome that has befallen so many.

Price also said he allowed other teachers to use his house for sex with students. Did he have that well-known house-lending compulsion, too? An inability to keep his doors locked?

He's sick, all right. Yes, it's definitely sick for a high-school teacher to sleep with his students. I don't think anybody argues that. It's sick, despicable and a violation of every kind of public trust.

But that doesn't mean it's a sickness, or that Price, as his lawyer says, is a "victim."

You know how bad Price is? I think even Geraldo thought he was sleazy.

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