Price seeks reduction of sentence

November 24, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A month after being sentenced to 26 years for child sex abuse, Ronald Walter Price is asking for limited freedom.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner said yesterday he will consider a request by Price's attorneys to modify the 26-year sentence he imposed Oct. 14 by reducing the term or letting their client serve under house arrest.

Price, 48, was convicted of three counts of child sex abuse. Three victims testified during the two-day jury trial that they had sexual relations with Price while students at Northeast High School and he was a social studies teacher there.

Price's attorneys said in a request sent to the judge Nov. 16 that their client has been "extremely cooperative" with the task force set up to investigate child abuse, the Baron Commission, and that his life is in danger in state prison because of it.

They argued that the term should be modified because Judge Lerner said when he imposed the sentence Oct. 14 that he might reduce it if Price shows remorse and cooperates with the commission.

They also asked that Price be allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest.

Assistant State's Attorney William Mulford II said he would oppose any reduction in sentence. He called Price's request to serve his term under house arrest "absurd."

"I think it's absurd and I think it's ridiculous to ask for house arrest, given the facts of this case," he said. "You're talking about the sex abuse of three young ladies, the exploitation of the case in the media and a complete lack of remorse on the part of the defendant."

Price is being held at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, a medium-security prison.

According to the request filed by Timothy F. Umbreit, Price's attorney, the head of the task force looking into sex abuse in the schools, Alan Baron, praised Price as being "extremely cooperative."

Price gave a four-hour deposition Oct. 21 to Mr. Baron at the state prison Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center in Baltimore, where inmates are diagnosed and processed into the system.

Mr. Baron confirmed yesterday that Price provided the names of two teachers and several students he suspected of being involved in child abuse.

"As far as I could tell, he wasn't hiding anything," said Mr. Baron, a Washington lawyer.

Mr. Baron said he provided a complete transcript of the interview to State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee.

Mr. Weathersbee said yesterday that none of the information provided by Price was new to the police and it is not expected to lead to any additional charges being filed.

According to Mr. Umbreit's request, Price also should be considered for house arrest because his safety is in jeopardy at the prison.

Mr. Umbreit's partner, Jonathan S. Resnick, reportedly was called by an assistant warden at Jessup Nov. 10. The prison official indicated that Price's continued cooperation with authorities was jeopardizing his safety at the prison, according to the request.

But Warden Eugene Nuth said yesterday that Mr. Resnick may have been contacted by someone at the jail, but that any comments made were taken out of context by the defense attorneys.

Mr. Nuth said that some prison officials may have contacted Mr. Resnick Nov. 11 to set up a meeting with Price that was requested by his attorneys.

But all that was said in that telephone conversation was that the attorney visitation room at the 12-year-old facility should be used for the meeting because it is the safest facility available.

He said that the prison could guarantee Price's safety as well as the safety of any other inmate.

"I've had other important prisoners here who've cooperated with authorities, and there's has never been any recriminations," Mr. Nuth said.

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