Grasmick to release Price report Officials' actions in case probed

July 28, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers and Mark Bomster | Carol L. Bowers and Mark Bomster,Staff Writers

State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said yesterday that she would release a report on the Anne Arundel County school system's handling of the case surrounding former Northeast High School teacher Ronald W. Price by the end of the week.

Dr. Grasmick and Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank Weathersbee received draft copies of the report July 19, but have refused to make it public.

Yesterday, Dr. Grasmick said the report would be released Thursday or Friday. She said it had been sent to Mr. Weathersbee only to ensure it would not interfere with any investigations.

"If in the course of the investigation we had identified an individual who participated in some sort of criminal activity, it would have to be pursued by the state's attorney," Dr. Grasmick said. "Such information might or might not be taken out of the report, I don't know. It is my sense the report will be released in its entirety."

The superintendent's chief of staff said last week that the trio of investigators assigned by Dr. Grasmick was rewriting its report after receiving comments from Mr. Weathersbee.

Asked whether the report was being "sanitized," Dr. Grasmick said: "No. Absolutely not. There is absolutely no desire to do that on my part or the part of the investigative group."

Last week, Mr. Weathersbee said he told the investigators he "would not sanction the release of the report." He cited the publicity it would cause before the trial of Mr. Price, who is charged with three counts of child sex abuse and is accused of having sex with young women while they were his students. His trial is set for Sept. 7.

Public pressure for the report's release increased this week.

Carolyn Roeding, president of the Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs, wrote Dr. Grasmick, "This report is in the process of being 'watered down' to preclude pretrial publicity. It is our feeling that a watered down report might heighten rather than lessen pretrial publicity."

Also yesterday, Mr. Price's lawyers, Jonathan Resnick and Timothy F. Umbreit, joined the call for the report's release and requested their own copies for use during the trial.

"If the head lawmaker in the county thinks this is so damaging it shouldn't ever come out, that's just too bad," Mr. Resnick said.

Mr. Umbreit accused local school officials of engaging in a "cover-up."

"I believe certain individuals involved in investigating the affairs have obstructed justice by tampering with evidence, [encouraging] perjury and attempting to disrupt the judicial process," said Mr. Umbreit, refusing to elaborate on his remarks.

Mr. Price has contended that school officials knew of his affairs with students, but did nothing to stop him.

The panel was established after the discovery that a 1989 investigation was dropped despite the fact that Northeast High administrators had a list of the names of 10 young women rumored to have been involved with Mr. Price.

At a news conference yesterday, Mr. Price's lawyers also decried Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.'s attempt to seize any money made through Mr. Price's contract with an independent Hollywood movie producer.

"I feel Mr. Curran is taking a personal interest in the case because he is running for governor," Mr. Umbreit said.

Turning over the contract would violate Mr. Price's First Amendment rights to free speech, as well as his right to have confidential communication with his lawyers, Mr. Umbreit said.

Mr. Curran filed suit Monday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to obtain the document, noting that under so-called "Son of Sam laws" -- named for the New York serial killer -- criminals may not profit from their crimes.

"I don't have to wait for a conviction to see who benefits," Mr. Curran said. "I can get a copy of the contract when the individual is charged with a crime."

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