Teen victim sues Price for $8 million

February 11, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

One of the victims of Ronald Walter Price filed an $8 million suit in Anne Arundel Circuit Court yesterday, alleging that the former Northeast High School teacher sexually exploited her and that school officials were negligent in letting it happen.

The suit, filed by a 17-year-old Pasadena girl and her parents, alleges that county school officials "knew or should have known" of Price's sexual relations with other female students before he became involved with the girl in 1991.

The suit maintains that school officials should have taken corrective steps, either counseling Price or dismissing him, to prevent the relationship, which lasted from December 1991 to April 1993.

Besides Price, the suit names as defendants the former county school superintendent, C. Berry Carter II; Joseph Cardamone, who was Northeast principal at the time; and the county Board of Education.

The suit says that Mr. Carter and Mr. Cardamone "failed to take any action to counsel, supervise and/or discipline" Price despite his repeated affairs with students.

As a result, the plaintiff "has suffered and will continue to suffer from extreme mental anguish and trauma, has undergone and will require future mental health treatment and in other ways has suffered injury and damage," the suit says.

Both the girl and her Annapolis lawyer, Joel Katz, were unavailable late yesterday.

Price, 49, was convicted by a jury on three counts of child abuse Sept. 9 after a two-day trial in which he admitted to having sex with the plaintiff and two other students in relationships that dated back to 1982.

Before trial, Price also admitted on nationally televised talk shows to having relations with up to seven students.

He is serving a 21-year prison sentence.

After Price and two other Northeast teachers were charged with child abuse, the school system hired an investigator to review the cases and school administrators. Mr. Carter, who retired from the county school system in October 1993, was sharply criticized in the report by Washington lawyer Alan I. Baron for ignoring allegations and rumors of child sex abuse.

Joseph Cardamone, principal at Northeast in the late 1980s, also heard several reports about Price but took no action, according to the report, which was the result of a four-month investigation by Mr. Baron.

Mr. Cardamone also did not relay the suspicions to Joseph Carducci, who took over as principal in 1991, according to the report.

Mr. Carter declined to comment on the suit yesterday and Mr. Cardamone was unavailable.

P. Tyson Bennett, the attorney for the school board, and David Plymyer, deputy county attorney, also declined to comment.

Timothy Umbreit, one of Price's attorneys, said yesterday that the suit was expected, but that his client, who is being held at the medium-security Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, is financially drained.

"It wasn't a question of if, but when, this was coming," he said. "A lot of what's happened is a matter of public record, and I think it's a case of the thing just speaking for itself."

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