Teens say man offered liquor as lure Volunteer mentor to students accused of child pornography

Youths detail allegations

Suspect involved with bicycle tour, authorities say

March 21, 1997|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Tanya Jones and Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

To some students at Meade High School, Gorden David Ross Jr. was a mentor, who spent hours helping them prep for cross-state bicycle rides. Police, though, have charged the 67-year-old with using his connection to youngsters, along with drugs and alcohol, to lure them into sex acts and posing for nude pictures.

During a monthlong investigation, police uncovered stories of how, over the past year, a man bought teen-agers at the high school marijuana and alcohol and took them to a "drinking spot" in Patuxent River Park. He allegedly showed some of them adult magazines and Polaroid pictures of nude youngsters wearing a wolf mask, according to court records.

Before the Gambrills man's mentorship with students was severed by his arrest Wednesday, police said he asked a 15-year-old boy to pose nude for money and paid a drunken 17-year-old boy with two cases of beer for oral sex, according to court records.

Ross, a retired Army sergeant first class of the 2200 block of Four Seasons Drive, has been charged with child pornography, prostitution, inducing absence from school, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was being held at the county detention center yesterday afternoon on $35,000 bail.

Neighbors said they rarely saw Ross or his wife outside their two-story, pastel-yellow colonial home, and rarely spoke with the man. But workers at Cycle Across Maryland -- the program through which he became a mentor to students at Meade -- described the trim, silver-haired bicyclist as "a model volunteer."

Troubled students

This year is the second Ross volunteered to help in Teen Challenge, a program sponsored by CAM that pairs troubled students across the state with adults who train and encourage them on the ride. Ross would ride with students on his own time to help them get ready for the tour, and it is not unusual for mentors to continue having contact with students after the tour, according to a Teen Challenge coordinator, Martin Soveroski.

Police said Ross' contact with students after the tour wasn't a healthy one.

According to charging documents, several students who were called before the school disciplinarian Feb. 14 to discuss their truancy told administrator Kenneth Goncz bizarre stories about an elderly friend who had made passes at some of them.

A 15-year-old boy reported that he met the man in his car outside the school in January and the man pulled three Polaroid pictures of two naked girls and a naked boy out of a black camera bag, according to court records.

The children, whose faces were covered with a wolf mask, "could not have been older than 12 to 13 years old," documents say. The man later offered to pay the boy $5 for each picture if he would pose naked and to let him use the wolf mask that he carried in the back seat of his car.

Another boy, 17, said the man asked him to show him his penis one day in late September when he asked the man to buy extra beer for a party. The youth, who had been drinking beer and a cheap, potent liquor, all morning, complied, and the encounter led to the man performing oral sex on the boy, according to the records.

On the way home, the man bought two cases of beer and gave them to the boy, court documents say.

Ross volunteered to be a mentor in the Teen Challenge program last year and began working with a 15-year-old boy at the school in April or May, court records say.

It was during the weeklong bicycle tour in June that he suggested to his student that they celebrate completing the tour with a bottle of white wine, the records say.

Bought liquor

"I was like yeah, liquor," the boy said in an interview with The Sun. The boy told police the man drove him to a liquor store in Odenton Shopping Center about a week later and bought a bottle of white wine. The two then went to Patuxent River Park and drank it, according to court records.

Through the remainder of the summer, the man took the boy out about once a week, the documents say. "He was just a liquor-provider," the boy said yesterday. He estimates that the man spent about $25 a week on whiskey and beer and later gave him about $50 a month to buy marijuana.

Soon the trips to the "drinking spot" included more friends from Meade -- two more 15-year-old boys, a 16-year-old boy, a 17-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. They called the man whenever they wanted to skip school, according to court documents.

But some of the teens indicated they didn't trust the man.

"He did have an unusual interest in sexuality, that's one thing I noticed," said a 16-year-old boy who met the man in October when he started skipping school with his friends. "The other thing I thought about was, why would a 70-year-old man buy children my age liquor? There has to be some kind of motive."

Pub Date: 3/21/97

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