Prosecutors drop sexual abuse charges against City College staff member

Prosecutors dropped charges Monday against Ryan Marcus Coleman, a former City College administrator accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old student, saying they lacked sufficient evidence to take the case to trial.

Coleman, 36, was charged in July 2010 with sex abuse of a minor, fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault. Assistant state's attorneys Michael Leedy and Katherine Smeltzer dropped all of those charges in Baltimore Circuit Court just before jury selection and a trial were slated to begin.


Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein, declined to comment further.

According to Howard Cardin, Coleman's lawyer, a prosecutor said in court Monday that there was an issue with the accuser but did not elaborate.


"Every defendant would like somebody to say you're not guilty. To that extent, he's been deprived of that," Cardin said of Coleman. "On the other hand, to have this off your back is certainly a relief and something to celebrate."

Cardin said he was prepared to defend the charges in court. While Coleman was ready to prove his innocence, the result was positive nonetheless, the defense attorney said.

City College, the third-oldest public high school in the nation, is among the most prestigious in the city and is nationally acclaimed.

Edie House, a spokeswoman for the city schools, said, "We have not received official notification from the court that the charges have been dropped."

According to charging documents, Coleman was an administrator overseeing behavior issues at City College when the allegations arose.

The documents accused him of rubbing a 17-year-old female student's back, sides, inner thigh and buttocks on multiple occasions between December 2009 and March 2010.

The Baltimore Sun does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Retired Baltimore Circuit Judge David Ross, who was scheduled to preside over the trial, heard preliminary motions from lawyers Friday. Cardin sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that Coleman had been denied a speedy trial.


When the court reconvened Monday morning, prosecutors said they were dropping the charges.

Cardin said he was expecting the trial to go forward, and had spent hours over the weekend in preparation. The first indication he got that he wouldn't be making an opening statement in the morning came five minutes before proceedings began, he said.

Coleman left the school in May 2010, school officials said.

According to the school's alumni association records, Coleman graduated from City College in 1993 and was the president of the Baltimore City College Alumni Association in 2004.

Neil Bernstein, board member emeritus of the alumni association, said, "It seems to me that whether Ryan was rightly or wrongly accused, it is inexcusable that the case was extended for such a long time."

He said the case had no effect on City College.


Coleman previously lived in the New Northwood neighborhood of northeast Baltimore but now lives in Quantico, Va., according to court records. He could not be reached for comment through his lawyer Monday night. Separate attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

Sun reporters Liz Bowie and Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.