Insanity plea likely on child sex abuse

June 03, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Ronald Walter Price, the former Northeast High School teacher who admits to having sex with students, does not have AIDS, suspects he is a pedophile and will try to convince a jury that he is insane when his case goes to trial, Mr. Price and his lawyers said yesterday.

Mr. Price, who resigned Friday amid charges of child abuse for his relationships with three former students, said after a pretrial hearing that he felt it was his duty to release results of his test for the HIV virus.

"I feel obligated to let the other person know that it was negative," the former social studies teacher said.

Mr. Price, who was arrested April 8 and charged with sexual child abuse and unnatural and perverted sex practices, has appeared on two national television shows. He said that he has had sex with as many as seven students and that he has an illness he "does not understand."

Timothy F. Umbreit, one of Mr. Price's lawyers, said yesterday that his client is seeing a psychiatrist. He said Mr. Price probably will plead insanity and claim that pedophilia is the cause of his problems.

Pedophilia is defined in the psychiatric manual used by the Maryland courts as a desire for "sexual activity with a prepubescent child." But it adds that a defendant's desire for children may be mixed with that for adults. Mr. Price's youngest victim was 14.

William C. Mulford II, an assistant state's attorney, said he expects the case to go to trial in about three months.

Mr. Price spoke with reporters after a 30-minute hearing before Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme, Jr. to decide whether to allow Mr. Price to continue to await trial under house arrest.

Judge Thieme issued a warrant for Mr. Price's arrest Tuesday after jail officials reported he had failed to answer his home telephone twice, as required by the court-ordered house arrest.

Yesterday, Judge Thieme allowed the house arrest to continue, but he denied a motion by Mr. Price's attorney to recuse himself from the case.

Mr. Umbreit said that Mr. Price taught Judge Thieme's son and that the judge "indicated a predisposition against our client."

Judge Thieme said that he was unaware that Mr. Price had taught his son, Mark Thieme, and that he hasn't talked to him about the case at all.

Mr. Price testified that jail officials told him he could fail to answer one of the 10 automated phone calls placed to his home daily as long as he was there to answer a quick follow-up call.

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