For Arundel, 1993 was quite a newsy year

January 02, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel

If the headlines from the rest of the world seemed bizarre in 1993, the ones coming from Anne Arundel county were at least as strange.

A social studies teacher at Northeast High School goes on national television to admit he had sexual relations with eight students. A young man is murdered because he wouldn't sell his ballpoint pen. Midshipmen at the Naval Academy pay to get an advance copy of their electrical engineering exam -- honor code or no honor code. Six black U.S. Secret Service agents charge that they are ignored at an Annapolis Denny's, while their white colleagues are having seconds.

Then there's the bizarre saga of Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke and his determination to move the team to Laurel -- and Gov. William Donald Schaefer's just-as-obstinate refusal to let him.

What follows are the top 10 local stories of 1993, as selected by the Anne Arundel staff of The Sun. Some are new variations on old themes, some have their roots in the past. But all of them touched our lives.

1. Sex scandals in Anne Arundel County schools caught the nation's attention this year when Ronald W. Price was charged with sexually abusing a student, then went on national television to admit seven relationships with students over his 25-year career at Northeast High School.

His claims, aired on "Geraldo!" and "A Current Affair," sparked three separate investigations that showed the county school system repeatedly broke the law by failing to report child abuse cases to either police or the Department of Social Services.

In a practice that one investigator called the "school system's dirty little secret," teachers accused of child abuse were either transferred or allowed to quietly resign and keep their teaching certificates.

Superintendent C. Berry Carter II resigned in October after the results of the second investigation were made public.

The first investigation, by administrators at the state Department of Education, found the school system negligent in reporting child abuse cases. The second and third investigations, done by lawyers Alan I. Baron and Eleanor M. Carey, who were paid $106,000 by the school system to carry out an investigation ordered by state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, provided a more detailed view of a system gone wrong.

The Baron and Carey investigations brought to light documents that showed Mr. Carter knew, or should have known, about Price's pattern of preying on students. Their report also faulted Mr. Carter for establishing a disciplinary system for teachers in which child abuse allegations were kept from the public as well as police and social workers.

Mr. Carter has insisted he did nothing wrong, despite the discovery of a letter in which he chastised a principal for not intervening to keep a case against a teacher from going to court.

The spring, summer and fall were punctuated with additional arrests: two other teachers at Northeast High, Laurie S. Cook and Charles A. Yocum, and Thomas A. Newman, a teacher at the Center for Applied Technology North, were each charged with one count of child sex abuse.

Price, ultimately charged with sexually abusing three students, was convicted in September and sentenced in October to 26 years in prison. Later this month, a judge is scheduled to review that sentence, taking into account Price's cooperation with the investigators who reviewed how the school system mishandled child abuse cases.

Ms. Cook was cleared by a jury in December, but remains on administrative leave pending an investigation by the county school system of whether her actions violated school policy. She has maintained her innocence since the arrest last May.

Mr. Yocum's case is scheduled to be tried Feb. 7. No date has been scheduled for Mr. Newman, the CAT North teacher who allegedly engaged in illicit sexual practices with a student between 1976 and 1977 on the grounds of Glen Burnie High School, where he was then teaching accounting.

In addition to investigating Ms. Cook, school board President Thomas Twombly said the Board of Education also plans to investigate, and possibly discipline, about 20 to 30 administrators and other employees cited in the reports.

The school system is already reviewing one of those cases. Northeast High School gym teacher Brandt C. Schanberger, accused of forcing an eighth-grade student to have oral sex with him 20 years ago, was pulled from his classroom last month. He remains on paid leave pending the outcome of the administrative investigation; prosecutors have refused to pursue the case. 5. It started out as a simple breakfast for six black U.S. Secret Service agents at a Denny's restaurant in Annapolis, and ended in charges of racism that briefly threatened an NFL-football expansion franchise for Charlotte, N.C.

The six uniformed agents were in the city last May to protect President Clinton, who was speaking at the U.S. Naval Academy.

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