For Arundel, 1993 was quite a newsy year


If the headlines from the rest of the world seemed bizarre in 1993, the ones coming from Anne Arundel county were at least as strange.

A social studies teacher at Northeast High School goes on national television to admit he had sexual relations with eight students. A young man is murdered because he wouldn't sell his ballpoint pen. Midshipmen at the Naval Academy pay to get an advance copy of their electrical engineering exam -- honor code or no honor code. Six black U.S. Secret Service agents charge that they are ignored at an Annapolis Denny's, while their white colleagues are having seconds.

Then there's the bizarre saga of Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke and his determination to move the team to Laurel -- and Gov. William Donald Schaefer's just-as-obstinate refusal to let him.

What follows are the top 10 local stories of 1993, as selected by the Anne Arundel staff of The Sun. Some are new variations on old themes, some have their roots in the past. But all of them touched our lives.

1. Sex scandals in Anne Arundel County schools caught the nation's attention this year when Ronald W. Price was charged with sexually abusing a student, then went on national television to admit seven relationships with students over his 25-year career at Northeast High School.

His claims, aired on "Geraldo!" and "A Current Affair," sparked three separate investigations that showed the county school system repeatedly broke the law by failing to report child abuse cases to either police or the Department of Social Services.

In a practice that one investigator called the "school system's dirty little secret," teachers accused of child abuse were either transferred or allowed to quietly resign and keep their teaching certificates.

Superintendent C. Berry Carter II resigned in October after the results of the second investigation were made public.

The first investigation, by administrators at the state Department of Education, found the school system negligent in reporting child abuse cases. The second and third investigations, done by lawyers Alan I. Baron and Eleanor M. Carey, who were paid $106,000 by the school system to carry out an investigation ordered by state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, provided a more detailed view of a system gone wrong.

The Baron and Carey investigations brought to light documents that showed Mr. Carter knew, or should have known, about Price's pattern of preying on students. Their report also faulted Mr. Carter for establishing a disciplinary system for teachers in which child abuse allegations were kept from the public as well as police and social workers.

Mr. Carter has insisted he did nothing wrong, despite the discovery of a letter in which he chastised a principal for not intervening to keep a case against a teacher from going to court.

The spring, summer and fall were punctuated with additional arrests: two other teachers at Northeast High, Laurie S. Cook and Charles A. Yocum, and Thomas A. Newman, a teacher at the Center for Applied Technology North, were each charged with one count of child sex abuse.

Price, ultimately charged with sexually abusing three students, was convicted in September and sentenced in October to 26 years in prison. Later this month, a judge is scheduled to review that sentence, taking into account Price's cooperation with the investigators who reviewed how the school system mishandled child abuse cases.

Ms. Cook was cleared by a jury in December, but remains on administrative leave pending an investigation by the county school system of whether her actions violated school policy. She has maintained her innocence since the arrest last May.

Mr. Yocum's case is scheduled to be tried Feb. 7. No date has been scheduled for Mr. Newman, the CAT North teacher who allegedly engaged in illicit sexual practices with a student between 1976 and 1977 on the grounds of Glen Burnie High School, where he was then teaching accounting.

In addition to investigating Ms. Cook, school board President Thomas Twombly said the Board of Education also plans to investigate, and possibly discipline, about 20 to 30 administrators and other employees cited in the reports.

The school system is already reviewing one of those cases. Northeast High School gym teacher Brandt C. Schanberger, accused of forcing an eighth-grade student to have oral sex with him 20 years ago, was pulled from his classroom last month. He remains on paid leave pending the outcome of the administrative investigation; prosecutors have refused to pursue the case. 5. It started out as a simple breakfast for six black U.S. Secret Service agents at a Denny's restaurant in Annapolis, and ended in charges of racism that briefly threatened an NFL-football expansion franchise for Charlotte, N.C.

The six uniformed agents were in the city last May to protect President Clinton, who was speaking at the U.S. Naval Academy.

They said they sat together at Denny's -- wearing full uniform, badges and guns -- without being served for an hour after ordering breakfast, watching while their white colleagues finished second and even third servings.

"These agents are in an elite enough group that they can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the president of the United States, but they weren't good enough to get served a plate of eggs at Denny's," said John P. Relman, an attorney for the agents.

Officer Alfonso Dyson, 25, of Upper Marlboro, said he decided poor service was not the only reason for the delay when a small group of whites who had entered the restaurant 30 minutes after the Secret Service agents was served.

"For me, that rang some bells," Mr. Dyson said. "The only conclusion that I could come to was that it was racial discrimination."

The incident occurred on the same day that TW Services Inc., which owns the Denny's chain, signed a consent decree with the Justice Department to end discriminatory practices in California.

In the days following, the Denny's chain fired the manager of the Annapolis restaurant, the Rev. Jesse Jackson led a protest on the Denny's parking lot and corporate leaders signed an agreement with the NAACP to end discrimination.

On June 5, Mr. Jackson led a protest in Annapolis and said that the head of TW Services Inc., Jerome J. Richardson, a former Baltimore Colts wide receiver, should not be awarded a coveted NFL team in Charlotte.

The protest included speeches by Mr. Jackson and others, including faithful customers who complained that Denny's workers are not racist. "Denny's does not discriminate. They just serve food late," one sign read.

Charlotte got its team, despite threats from Mr. Jackson to try to block the expansion franchise based on the "pattern of racism" exhibited by Denny's officials.

A civil case filed by the agents is winding its way through federal court in Baltimore.

In July, Denny's parent company signed an agreement with the Baltimore-based NAACP that assured that 53 restaurants, including the one in Annapolis, would become black-owned franchises by 1997.

The head of the NAACP, Benjamin Chavis Jr., called the "fair-share agreement" -- one of about 60 negotiated by the NAACP since 1982 -- "a model for the rest of corporate America and for the rest of the civil rights movement."

During a news conference announcing the agreement, the NAACP endorsed Charlotte's bid for an NFL team, a move Gov. William Donald Schaefer decried as a "slap in the face."

Charlotte was awarded its NFL team in October; Baltimore's bid was turned down.

Peter Hermann

6. It has been a year of damage control at Fort Meade.

First there was Col. Kent D. Menser, the garrison commander, forced into retirement.

CThen his successor, Col. Robert G. Morris III, got into trouble for allegedly giving a speech laced with profanities to hundreds of civilian post employees.

Meanwhile, post officials got caught up in a nasty skirmish between Governor Schaefer, who wanted to move the Herman L. Toulson prison boot camp from Jessup to the fort, and Odenton residents, who wanted no part of it.

All this while Army investigators were busy auditing Fort Meade's books and probing allegations of fraud, waste, racism, violations of federal environmental laws and unfair personnel practices.

Many of those issues will carry over into next year. There are 10 administrative and seven criminal investigations under way.

And Colonel Morris still is waiting for the results of the probe into his alleged indiscretions. Officials say that investigation should be completed this month.

However, Fort Meade officials are trying to accentuate the positive as the post takes up its new mission in the wake of base realignments ordered in 1990.

They point out that the post will be home to several new tenants, including the Environmental Protection Agency, which plans to build a $40 million lab; three consolidated Department of Defense public relations schools, which plan to build a $36 million, 232,000-square-foot school; and the Library of Congress, which plans a $3.1 million warehouse for 2 million books.

"We are continuing to move toward our administrative support mission," said Don McClow, a Fort Meade spokesman. "It's been a real challenge."

It was last February when Colonel Menser admitted to area residents he was retiring a year early because of military downsizing.

The Pentagon announced his retirement May 20, the same day " the post received a $125,000 award recognizing it as the most improved military installation in the United States.

Colonel Morris is a blunt, war-toughened commander who differs in style from his predecessor, Colonel Menser, who called himself a mayor and was adept at politics.

With community leaders up in arms over the boot camp, arguing that it would be too close to homes and would not fit in with the post's "federal office park" image, Colonel Menser left the decision to Colonel Morris, who agreed with the governor.

But before the Pentagon could weigh in with its opinion, several Maryland lawmakers in Washington blocked the proposal and thwarted the governor.

Colonel Morris vowed to clean up the problems documented in an 800-page report that contained 89 charges of misconduct. But early last month he became a target of a 1st U.S. Army investigation into his alleged use of profanity while addressing civilian workers and for reportedly telling sexually oriented stories about Army nurses during a briefing at the Officer's Club.

The colonel apologized for any comments he made, but denied anything he said could be construed as "sexual harassment," as one anonymous complaint alleged. That investigation, like the others, is continuing.

Peter Hermann

7. For most of the year, County Executive Robert R. Neall sure was behaving like a gubernatorial candidate.

He crisscrossed the state, formed a blue-ribbon exploratory committee and conducted polls to gauge his name recognition.

And then, just when he seemed poised to throw himself into the fray, giving the Republican party its best shot at the governor's mansion in more than a quarter century, he dropped out.

On a Friday afternoon, Oct. 15, Mr. Neall not only withdrew from the 1994 governor's race, but he also retired from politics, at least for the time being.

His decision came down to money, Mr. Neall said.

He did not think a governor's salary, or a county executive's salary, would put his four children through college.

In addition, some observers noted that Mr. Neall does not have much of a stomach for campaigning, and the prospect of raising the $3 million needed for a strong campaign may have been daunting.

The county executive said he would look for a management job in private industry before his term expires in December 1994.

Immediately, speculation ran rampant that Mr. Neall would not finish out his term.

A new rumor seemed to come up every day, the latest that he would resign by the end of the year to take a job with a major corporation.

Mr. Neall steadfastly denied them all, insisting he would serve out his term.

So far, he is still here.

Mr. Neall's decision to leave government at least put on hold what had been an accomplished political career.

He first made a name for himself as the House minority whip and minority leader, earning a reputation as fiscally conservative -- he spearheaded the drive to change the state's teacher pension system in the mid-1980s, a move that earned him the enduring enmity of the state teachers union -- and as an effective lawmaker.

As county executive, he received generally good reviews, even from Democrats, for cutting costs by trimming the work force and consolidating county government.

Anne Arundel County faced the same recession and the same cuts in state aid that, for example, Baltimore County faced.

But unlike Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden, Mr. Neall was not forced to lay off hundreds of county employees or close senior centers and libraries.

The jockeying has already begun to succeed Mr. Neall. On the Republican side, Del. John G. Gary already has announced and former Del. John R. Leopold has strongly hinted that he will join the race. Already, mud has been slung between supporters for the two in the letters sections of local newspapers.

Although several possible contenders have surfaced on the Democratic side, nobody has officially entered the race.

John Rivera

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