Woman alleges trysts

April 27, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

A 33-year-old woman told an Anne Arundel County jury yesterday she had sex with her favorite teacher at Glen Burnie High School 17 years ago because "it was really important to me to do what this favorite teacher wanted me to do."

It wasn't until 1990, when she read a profile of a child sex abuse victim, that she came forward, she said. And it wasn't until Ronald Walter Price was convicted of having sex with his students at Northeast High School that anyone listened to her.

Thomas A. Newman of Glen Burnie was charged in October -- the day after Price was sentenced to 21 years in prison -- with child abuse and unnatural and perverted sex practices for an incident that allegedly occurred in 1976 when he taught business education at Glen Burnie High School.

Mr. Newman, now a teacher-coordinator at the Center for Applied Technology South, denied having sex with the student. He testified yesterday that he didn't even remember her.

The woman testified that Mr. Newman befriended her in the fall of 1976, shortly after her parents had separated, then one day led her to a third-floor room at the school during a free period and persuaded her to perform a sex act.

About six weeks later, she took off from school and met him at her family's Glen Burnie apartment, where they had sex, she testified. She said she was confused during and after both incidents.

"This was a favorite teacher of mine," she said.

The woman, now a 33-year-old marketing specialist for a property management firm, claimed that the incidents occurred at a time when she was extremely vulnerable. Her parents had separated, and she had moved to a new neighborhood and new school. Worse, her father was convicted of killing the man her mother had begun dating and was serving 15 years in prison.

Mr. Newman "was the only real person that I had to talk to. I had no one else," she said.

The parents' names are being withheld to protect the woman's identity.

She said that after the incidents, she confided in a friend. But she didn't report her allegations until 1990, when she informed her mother, then called school authorities.

Both her mother and her friend corroborated her testimony.

But C. Berry Carter II, then superintendent, wrote that there was "nothing of substance" to support her allegations.

Mr. Carter was later dismissed after a state investigation sharply criticized his administration for its failure to respond to such complaints.

Mr. Newman's lawyers made sure the jury knew he is a decorated Vietnam veteran who has been married to the mother of his two children for 24 years.

He testified that the third-floor area where the first incident allegedly occurred was heavily traveled by teachers so that it would have been difficult for anyone to have sex there undetected.

He also said he never left the school during any free periods or planning periods to meet her because such departures are against school policies.

"You can't just walk out of the building and say I'm going to 7-11 to get coffee, because anything can happen," he said.

He also said that if any student had told him about her parents splitting up and her father committing a murder, he "would have referred her to a guidance counselor."

The case, being tried before Judge Eugene M. Lerner, is expected to go to the jury today.

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