A Baltimore area actor says he was sexually abused 29 years ago by a man now working in a Baltimore County middle school and faults the response by the school system and prosecutors.
James “PJ” Ransone, an actor who had prominent roles in “The Wire” and the movies “It Chapter Two” and “Sinister,” said on Instagram last week that Timothy Rualo, then a math tutor, molested him in Ransone’s Phoenix home over a six-month period around 1992, when Ransone was about 13. Rualo is currently department chair of the social studies program at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School in Pikesville, according to the school’s website.
Ransone reported the allegations last year to Baltimore County police, who investigated, police records show. The Baltimore County State’s Attorney Office did not bring charges.
“The bigger issue for me is that he was around other children,” Ransone said in an interview, describing his decision to speak publicly about the alleged abuse. “This isn’t really about me as a victim anymore.”
In an email Ransone sent to Rualo in March and published on Instagram this week, Ransone, now 41, said Rualo took “advantage of a situation in … [a] household that was lacking a strong paternal presence that could have prevented you from molesting me.”
Efforts to reach Rualo by email, phone and at more than a dozen addresses were unsuccessful.
In a message sent last week to parents of Sudbrook students that school officials shared with The Baltimore Sun, Sudbrook principal Gordon Webb said he had been informed of “a concern that has been shared via social media and has been reported to me through email and telephone calls from parents and students.”
“Upon receiving the information, the appropriate and immediate actions were followed,” Webb wrote.
School officials would not specify what action was taken or say whether Rualo, who court records indicate is 53, was placed on administrative leave, citing policies protecting personnel matters.
Baltimore County schools spokesman Charlie Herndon also wouldn’t say how long Rualo has worked for the school system but confirmed he remains an employee.
Under school system policy, an employee who is criminally charged or investigated for a crime “may be subject to disciplinary action regardless of when or where the crime occurred or the outcome of the criminal proceeding.”
Ransone said that in March of last year, he met with a Baltimore County police officer, who began investigating the case.
In a police report filed by the investigating officer, listed as S. Pruett, the officer describes reviewing an entry from Ransone’s childhood journal in which Ransone referenced abuse by a babysitter. At the time, Ransone’s family had hired Rualo to tutor the actor, the report says.
Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger confirmed that his office declined last year to pursue charges against Rualo.
Child abuse cases, especially when the abuse happened years ago, “are extremely difficult to prosecute,” Shellenberger said. He said he spoke about the child abuse allegation only because the accuser, Ransone, has discussed it publicly and with a reporter.
“It is very difficult, even when you believe the victim, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that abuse occurred, Shellenberger said.
In Maryland, there is no statute of limitation on criminal cases of child sexual abuse.
Authorities told the school system about the complaint last June when detectives subpoenaed Rualo’s employment records, according to a police department spokeswoman. Ransone said he was contacted by the school system’s human resources office in October.
He said he was asked if he was in a relationship with Rualo and why he didn’t come forward sooner.
“Do you not understand how children compartmentalize?” Ransone said in an interview.
In his Instagram post, he added that he had lost track of Rualo’s last name until his mother found it printed on old check stubs.
Ransone said he was not contacted again by the school system after October, but that he was told at the time human resources would “look into” the allegation. A spokesman for the school system declined to comment.
Ransone said that permitting Rualo to continue working with children after he reported the abuse to police last year was a failure of the school system and law enforcement.
“The entire system allowed him to be around children still,” he said.
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Sexual abuse survivors often take years to recognize what happened and come forward, survivor advocates say. Ransone said he was not ready to confront the abuse until he had completed a 12-step program and became sober in 2006.