Harassment complaint against coach dropped

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

A sexual harassment complaint against Northeast High School's baseball coach was dropped last night when the alleged victim refused to testify at a Board of Education hearing.

"The complaint was dropped. As of tonight, he's back at Northeast," said H. Richard Duden III, a lawyer representing Coach Harry Lentz.

Mr. Lentz -- who taught social studies at Northeast for 28 years and whose baseball team was the top-ranked high school team in the country last year -- was transferred this month to a desk job at the school system's central headquarters as a result of the allegation.

"I was shocked; I thought it would be a long, drawn-out night," said Mr. Lentz, who was still standing outside the district's central offices on Riva Road at 7 p.m. to tell late-arriving supporters they did not have to testify after all. "I had 21 people lined up to testify for me. I'm very happy."

Mr. Duden said he did not know why alleged victim Marlene Ramey, a former Northeast social studies teacher, changed her mind about testifying.

The sexual harassment allegations followed two investigations into the handling of the case of Ronald Walter Price, a former Northeast social studies teacher convicted of having sex with three students.

Sources said Ms. Ramey, who now teaches at Annapolis High, told investigators she had been sexually harassed by Mr. Lentz and another Northeast social studies teacher, Roger Stitt. Ms. Ramey did not file a complaint at the time -- the late 1980s -- but sought a mid-year transfer to another school.

As a result of her statements this spring, the complaint was brought by Superintendent C. Berry Carter II -- now on leave pending an investigation into whether he properly reported child abuse cases.

When Ms. Ramey did not testify last night, acting Superintendent Carol S. Parham chose not to present any evidence to shocked school board members, who were there to hear the appeal.

Ms. Ramey refused to come to the telephone last night, but her husband, David R. Ramey, conferred with her and then said: "She feels she needs to seek legal counsel on this. It was a very difficult decision for her to make. She feels it's necessary at this time."

Mr. Lentz and Mr. Stitt were put on administrative leave in June pending an investigation into the allegations and learned this month they would be transferred to jobs at the Board of Education headquarters.

Mr. Lentz, who has denied the allegations, also was told he would be suspended with pay for 30 days for the offense. Mr. Stitt has denied the allegations.

Mr. Duden said Dr. Parham could decide to transfer Mr. Lentz from Northeast again.

"But I don't see why Dr. Parham would do that," he said.

Dr. Parham declined to comment on the case last night.

Students, teachers, parents and graduates of Northeast High have called for Mr. Lentz's return. There were two rallies last month, and last night's witness line-up read like a Who's Who of Northeast Sports.

Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof -- a 1983 Northeast graduate and the University of Maryland Terrapins' leading receiver in 1985 -- came from his Burtonsville home to testify for Mr. Lentz.

"He was a very important person to me while I attended Northeast," said Mr. Abdur-Ra'oof, who later tried out with the Kansas City Chiefs. A racial epithet made to him as he tried out for the football team in the ninth grade at Northeast easily could have deterred him from continuing in sports, he said.

"But I told Mr. Lentz and he handled the situation -- I didn't even have to tell my parents," he said. "He is a person that cared like a teacher should. I could have stopped playing sports then and there. But that wasn't all. When I was drafted by the Chiefs, he was there. . . . When I ruptured my Achilles' tendon, he was there. He's been a significant person in my life."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.