Former Northeast High School teacher Ronald Walter Price, who has admitted having sex with seven students, will try to convince a jury that he was insane during at least some of the relationships, his lawyer said yesterday.
Mr. Price, who resigned his teaching post May 28, was charged in April with three counts of child sexual abuse, unnatural and perverted sex practices and a fourth-degree sex offense for allegedly having sex with students, sometimes in the school building.
Jonathan Resnick, one of Mr. Price's two Baltimore lawyers, said his client's pleas were filed by mail yesterday. He is pleading not criminally responsible by reason of insanity to two charges and not guilty to a third.
Mr. Resnick said he hopes the defense will result in a court order for continued treatment for his client, not a prison sentence.
"He's not a dangerous person," said Mr. Resnick, who noted that Mr. Price already is getting psychiatric help. "The only persons he allegedly had intimate relations with were his students, and he's resigned. He can no longer teach. He's not a danger to society."
Mr. Price has admitted on national television that he had sex with as many as seven students over a 20-year period. The indictments on three counts of child sexual abuse came after charges were brought by a current student and two graduates of the Pasadena school. Mr. Price was arrested April 8.
The not guilty plea was to a charge filed by a graduate.
In the case of the 16-year-old who filed charges this year and the other graduate, Mr. Price pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, said Mr. Resnick.
"He had a mental illness. That means he could not understand the criminality of his actions," the lawyer said.
Maryland law sets a two-pronged standard for determining sanity: A defendant must be able to appreciate the criminality of his conduct and must be capable of conforming his conduct to the law. Anyone found not criminally responsible can request his release and get a hearing once a year before a judge, jury or hearing examiner.