D.C. lawyer to head Carter probe ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

August 11, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel | Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writers

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education named Washington, D.C., lawyer Alan I. Baron as the investigator who will determine whether Superintendent C. Berry Carter II failed to TTC report suspected child abuse, in violation of state law.

Mr. Baron, a Baltimore resident who is a partner in the firm of Howrey & Simon, also has been asked to look closely at recent events at Northeast High School. Since April, three teachers have been indicted on charges of child sex abuse involving students at the Pasadena school.

The initial phase of the investigation is expected to take 30 to 40 days, said board President Thomas Twombly, who added that the board "will act promptly after receiving his report." The report must be completed on or before Nov. 30.

Mr. Baron will be paid $106,000.

The appointment was approved by state school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, after a preliminary investigation she ordered raised questions about the county's overall handling of child sex abuse complaints.

From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Baron served as special impeachment counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives in proceedings that resulted in the impeachment, conviction, and removal of two federal judges. Most recently, he was special counsel to the commission investigating the failure of Rhode Island's privately insured financial institutions.

The appointment of an investigator follows by 10 days the school board's decision to put Mr. Carter on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. Carol Parham, the school system's director of human resources, has been named acting superintendent.

Mr. Carter was ordered to go on leave after the release of an investigation that criticized the county school system's handling of the case of Ronald Walter Price, a teacher at Northeast for 25 years. Mr. Price was charged in April with three counts of child sex abuse, accused of having sexual relationships with three women while they were his students.

The state investigation concluded that key Northeast administrators did not report to police or social workers allegations made against Mr. Price in 1989. State investigators also found that Mr. Carter -- who was then the county's deputy superintendent -- was notified of the allegations made against Mr. Price but took no action.

Mr. Carter has had no comment since being put on leave, but has maintained that he had "no direct knowledge" of any complaints against Mr. Price before April 1993.

Since Mr. Price was arrested April 8, two other teachers at Northeast have been charged with one count each of child sex abuse.

Laurie Susanne Cook, a 33-year-old science teacher, was arrested May 15 for allegedly being physically involved with a male student during the 1991-1992 school year. She has denied the charge.

Charles Allen Yocum, 30, surrendered yesterday after he was indicted Monday on one count of child sex abuse involving a 16-year-old girl. The incident allegedly occurred five years ago during Mr. Yocum's first year at Northeast.

District Court Commissioner Deborah J. Regimenti freed Mr. Yocum on a $10,000 signature bond after a brief hearing in Glen Burnie. No trial date has been set.

Dr. Parham placed Mr. Yocum on leave without pay Monday pending investigation. Mr. Yocum is appealing that decision to the school board.

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