Teacher backs off from TV remarks

January 12, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Laurie S. Cook backed down yesterday from earlier televised statements that prosecutors and police had "put students up" to telling lies about her.

Ms. Cook's reversal came on the ninth and final day of testimony DTC at a hearing to determine whether she will regain her teaching job at Northeast High School in Anne Arundel County.

She said in an August interview with a WBAL television reporter, eight months after a jury acquitted her on a charge of child sex abuse, that students had been coached in their stories.

In July, Superintendent Carol S. Parham charged Ms. Cook with having sex with a student and with three other counts of misconduct. Dr. Parham recommended that the school board fire Ms. Cook. The teacher appealed that recommendation. The hearing, open to the public at her request, began Dec. 2.

WBAL's interview with Ms. Cook was replayed for the hearing examiner, William M. Ferris, reporters and a half-dozen spectators, including the sister of the boy who accused Ms. Cook of having sex with him.

In the WBAL interview, Ms. Cook told reporter Tim Tooten that she believed "grown-ups down at the board are twisting what witnesses are saying" and that "prosecutors and detectives put students up to this and convinced them to lie."

Yesterday, Ms. Cook told P. Tyson Bennett, the lawyer representing Dr. Parham, that her comments had come at the end of a 50-minute interview when she was "clearly upset and angry."

Asked by Mr. Bennett whether she believed prosecutors and police persuaded students to tell lies about her, Ms. Cook replied, "That's a harsh word. . . . I'll say no."

She also testified that during the investigation she received telephone calls from teachers who told her that "students at the school were being confronted with rumors and, when pressed, they'd back down, and then they would be pressured with arrest and prosecution."

The videotape was viewed over the protests of Ms. Cook's lawyer, M. Cristina Gutierrez.

Mr. Ferris and seven members of the county school board are scheduled to hear final arguments in the case Wednesday.

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