3rd Northeast teacher faces pupil-sex count ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

August 10, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers and Dennis O'Brien | Carol L. Bowers and Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writers Staff writer Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

The "Teacher of the Year" at Northeast High School was indicted yesterday by an Anne Arundel County grand jury on charges of sexually abusing one of his students.

Charles Allen Yocum, 30, of the 1400 block of Cox Landing Court, Glen Burnie, became the third teacher at the Pasadena school to be charged with sexual abuse of students.

Frank R. Weathersbee, the Anne Arundel County state's attorney, said yesterday that Mr. Yocum performed sex acts with one of his students at various locations on school grounds during the 1988-1989 school year. The student was 16 years of age at the time and now lives out-of-state, he said.

Mr. Yocum is charged with sexual child abuse, perverted practices and battery, Mr. Weathersbee said.

Mr. Yocum was unavailable yesterday, but his attorney, Terrence M. Nolan, said he believes that his client is innocent and that the indictment shows that "any teacher is vulnerable to these types of charges."

He said that Mr. Yocum, Northeast High School's "Teacher of the Year" for 1992-1993, likely would surrender to police either today or Wednesday.

Mr. Weathersbee declined to say yesterday whether there are any other possible victims being interviewed, whether other Northeast teachers may be charged or whether there is evidence showing that administrators had been alerted to the incidents involving Mr. Yocum.

A state report has criticized school officials for failing to follow up on allegations in 1987 that another Northeast teacher, Ronald W. Price, was having relations with students. Mr. Price was the first of the teachers charged with child sexual abuse.

The report prompted an extensive shake-up of the system during which Superintendent C. Berry Carter II was replaced temporarily July 31, two assistant principals at Northeast were reassigned and the supervisor of high schools was assigned to work directly with Northeast Principal Joseph Carducci.

School officials also transferred two Northeast teachers late last week. Roger Stitt and Harry Lentz, both social studies teachers, have been placed on administrative leave with pay while school officials investigate allegations they sexually harassed another teacher. Both have been transferred. They are expected to receive new assignments Aug. 25.

Dr. Carol Parham, the acting county school superintendent, placed Mr. Yocum on administrative leave without pay yesterday pending further investigation.

Carolyn Roeding, president of the Anne Arundel Council of PTAs, said she was "numb" at hearing news of yet another indictment. "I pray things will happen to ensure the safety of the students at Northeast," she said.

Mr. Yocum, a special education teacher, is one of three teachers charged with sexually abusing students at the school.

Mr. Price, 49, of Brooklyn Park, a social studies teacher and softball coach, has been charged with sexually abusing three students at the school and has admitted on national television talk shows that he had relations with eight students.

He also has said he knew of at least two other Northeast teachers involved in similar exploits.

Laurie S. Cook, 33, of Catonsville, is charged with the sexual child abuse of a 14-year-old male student. She held her own news conference to deny the allegations.

"I think there is certainly a strange atmosphere going on [at Northeast]," M. Cristina Gutierrez, attorney for Ms. Cook, charged in May. "It is regrettable that her case is caught up in the circus atmosphere going on there."

Mr. Price's trial is scheduled for Sept. 7 and Ms. Cook's trial is set for Sept. 28.

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