School knew in 1989 of rumors Price was involved with 10 girls

June 10, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

Administrators at Northeast High School knew four years ag of at least 10 young women rumored to have been involved with Ronald Walter Price, the teacher who has admitted to having sex with several of his students, an attorney for the Anne Arundel County Board of Education acknowledged yesterday.

The names -- all of students who had since graduated -- were contained in notes taken in January 1989 by then-Assistant Principal Mary Gable, who was investigating claims that a student had had a sexual relationship with Mr. Price while she was in high school. The investigation was discontinued after the young woman refused to cooperate with police.

Yesterday's admission marked the first time school officials have acknowledged they were aware of allegations of sexual abuse ** against Mr. Price other than those made by the graduate interviewed by Ms. Gable.

Mr. Price, a teacher at Northeast for 25 years, was charged this spring with three counts of child abuse and perverted sex practices. Lawyer Jonathan Resnick, who is representing Mr. Price, said his client has admitted to having relations with four of the 10 women. The teacher has admitted to having sex with as many as seven students in the past 20 years.

Ms. Gable told school officials this week that she gave her notes from a conversation with the young woman, including a list of nine other possible victims, to then-Principal Joseph Cardamone, said P. Tyson Bennett, a lawyer for the school board. The same information was given to county police investigators, he said.

"We're looking into what happened after the information left Ms. Gable's hands," Mr. Bennett said.

Ms. Gable, now principal of Old Mill High School, has declined to comment on the case.

Police have said that their investigation of Mr. Price in 1989 ended when the young woman who confided to Ms. Gable refused to cooperate in their investigation, and that they were never given any additional names of possible victims.

"No, we were not given the list. We were only given one name of one lady who refused to talk to us," said Sgt. Robert Tice, of the Anne Arundel County police department. "If we had been given a list of names [of others allegedly involved with Mr. Price], it would have changed the complexion of the case dramatically."

Mr. Price said in one nationally televised interview that he spoke with the young woman interviewed by Ms. Gable and persuaded her not to cooperate with police because he feared he would lose his career.

It would be four more years before Mr. Price was arrested. In April, two of the women whose names appeared on the list came forward after a 16-year-old student -- whose name was not on the list -- became the first to press charges. She said her relationship with him began more than 18 months ago.

Mr. Price has admitted on national television that he had sex with students for about 20 of the 25 years he was a teacher. He has, however, denied criminally responsibility, claiming to have an illness.

Since his arrest, the former Social Studies teacher and softball coach has alleged that school officials were aware of his problem, but failed to act on it.

Superintendent C. Berry Carter II, who was deputy superintendent in 1989, has said he had "no direct knowledge" ** of the first investigation of Mr. Price.

Department of Social Services officials said in April they had never investigated Mr. Price. The agency director has refused to comment since then.

DSS is not usually involved in cases in which someone over 18 alleges that they were abused as a child.

But under its policy, the agency would have investigated a case such as this because the alleged abuser, who was still teaching, would have had access to other potential victims.

But agency sources said that when an employee went to interview the young woman who confided in Ms. Gable, the woman refused to supply even the name of the teacher who allegedly abused her -- which may be why the agency has no LTC record of investigating Mr. Price.

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