Ex-teacher convicted of sex abuse dies Price was released from prison Friday

January 18, 1998|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

Ronald W. Price, the Anne Arundel County teacher convicted in 1993 of sexually abusing three female students, died of lung cancer yesterday at the University of Maryland Medical Center, a day after his release from a 21-year prison term.

An Anne Arundel County circuit judge ordered that Price, 53, be released from the Maryland House of Correction Friday so that he could die in a hospice rather than in an infirmary at the prison.

"Members of his family were with him when he passed away," said Ellen Beth Levitt, a spokeswoman for the University of Maryland Medical Center. Price died at 6: 30 p.m., she said.

Price's attorney, T. Joseph Touhey, said afterward that his client's 11th-hour release from prison was a "hollow victory."

Price was "happy to have been able to have the right to die at home, even though he never made it. But at least he didn't die with a prison guard at his side," Touhey said.

Touhey said Price's family planned to have his body cremated and to hold a private memorial service.

Efforts to reach Price's family were unsuccessful.

"I know that everyone will remember the fact that he was #F involved in this infamous case and the obvious evil that he did," Touhey said last night from his Severna Park home. "But he was a respected teacher for 20-plus years, and he did a lot of good for a lot of his students."

Last week, after physicians abandoned treatment of his rapidly spreading lung cancer, which was diagnosed in October, Price made an emergency request that he be released from prison.

Price was hospitalized after his condition deteriorated Thursday night. He was on oxygen and nearly bedridden in a prison infirmary, and was unable to attend Friday's court hearing.

During the hearing, Judge Eugene M. Lerner said deathbed care for Price would be burdensome for the Maryland House of Correction, that Price no longer was a threat to society and that there was a humanitarian concern.

Lerner ordered Price's 21-year prison sentence changed to house arrest and released him to the care of a brother, Randy Price, and Hospice of the Chesapeake.

In 1993, Lerner sentenced Price to 26 years in prison. He later reduced the sentence to 21 years.

During his incarceration, Price helped fellow inmates with basic reading and writing skills, Touhey said.

Price, a popular Northeast High School teacher and softball coach before the accusations that stunned the community and the county school system, was charged with having sex with three female students. Price's wife, a former student, divorced him after the trial.

His case put a national spotlight on the nation's 47th-largest school system after he said on the nationally syndicated "Geraldo!" television show that he had had sex with six or seven students over his 25-year teaching career. Many knew of his activities but did nothing to stop them, he said on the show.

A subsequent state-ordered investigation into the county schools' handling of sex cases involving teachers brought more accusations to light and led to the resignation of Superintendent C. Berry Carter III amid criticism that he had mishandled earlier cases involving Price.

Pub Date: 1/18/98

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