FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - Former American University president Richard E. Berendzen pleaded guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanor charges of making obscene telephone calls from his office and said he deeply regretted his actions.
Shortly after he appeared in court, Johns Hopkins University Hospital released a five-page statement that said the 51-year-old Berendzen had been sexually abused as a youngster.
"He was sexually and emotionally abused severely as a child," said the statement, which the hospital said was released by the authority of Dr. Paul R. McHugh, chairman of the hospital's Psychiatry Department.
"He did not place calls for prurient interests; rather in a confused way, he was seeking answers to unresolved issues relating to his own abuse," the statement said. The person who allegedly abused Berendzen was identified only as an adult woman who was close to him, a release issued by McHugh said.
In a statement read outside the court by his attorney, Gerard Treanor, Berendzen said, "In no way do I offer this report as an excuse for my conduct. Rather, it gives additional information, fills out the story, and provides a fuller context for my actions."
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Fairfax County General District Court Judge J. Conrad Waters Jr. sentenced Berendzen to 30 days in jail on each charge. He suspended all of the jail time, provided the educator stays out of trouble for one year and continues treatment.
Berendzen said he would continue on an outpatient basis at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and would report to the court every 90 days.
One of the women he was accused of calling, in suburban Virginia near Washington, said, "I cannot criticize the judge."
But the woman, Susan Allen, also called Berendzen "a very sick man" and said of his required therapy, "I do not feel he is going to get the effect of it as he would if he had walked in there and said, "I am an obscene telephone caller. Help me.' "