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Student says assistant principal who molested her is 'terrible man who ruined my life' [Updated]

The former student who was sexually assaulted by a Los Angeles assistant principal now feels “worthless and guilty," according to a probation report obtained by The Times.

Rooney The school official, Steve Thomas Rooney, was sentenced to eight years in state prison for molesting the victim and three other students.

 “I think Mr. Rooney is a terrible man who ruined my life,” she told a probation investigator seeking to determine his suitability for probation.

The report paints a picture of a respected educator who used his position to sexually abuse the youngsters he was meant to protect. In the case of one of the other victims, by her account, between ages 15 and 17 they had “long-term affair.” 

Much of the time Rooney was a dean at Foshay Learning Center, where that girl was a student. “He took me everywhere with him, even to New York,” she told a probation investigator. “He had sex with me as often as he wanted. I think over 150 times.”

She testified in a preliminary hearing in the case that Rooney got her pregnant when she was 16 and that she essentially lived at his downtown loft for portions of 2005 to 2007. They even visited his parents’ home in New York, where they had sex, she said

Rooney’s conduct was eventually investigated after the girl's stepfather threatened Rooney with a gun.

But the girl withdrew her allegations. The district reassigned him to Fremont High and then Markham Middle School as an assistant principal, where police allege he found two more victims.

One of those victims, the one who called Rooney a terrible man, told investigators that she was taken to his downtown loft, stripped naked and “raped twice and sodomized.” 

Rooney was eventually convicted of lewd conduct with the girl.

After Rooney’s arrest last year, the former Foshay student came forward again and revealed she kept a scrapbook that included photos of her and Rooney kissing and visiting his parents. She later testified that she continued the sexual relationship even after the initial police inquiry in 2007. She said Rooney got her to gather up all the items connecting them and give them to another dean, who hid them from authorities.

[Updated 8:23 p.m. An earlier version of this story confused the accounts of the two victims quoted.]

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Steve Thomas Rooney during sentencing Tuesday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (25)

This makes me want to puke. What a disgusting abuse of position and, more importantly, of these girls. Just because a 15 or 16 year old wears make up and/or a certain type of clothing (and I don't know if that was the case here), or acts more mature than her years (again, not saying that was what happened here), does not mean that she IS mature. She is certainly not grown up enough, nor does she have the life experience, to handle the advances of someone in an authoritarian position. Even grown women with plenty of life experience often have problems like this. But to do it to children - even to ones who appear not to be children - is repugnant.

I know many would ask how the girl could let it happen 150 times... if this has never happened to you, just know that you can not judge what you do not understand. And you can not possibly understand the psychological malfunctions that occur when one is taken advantage of sexually - so much the worse by someone they have been told to trust.

This man is sickening. Perhaps eight years of prison life will give him a taste of what he's done to these girls - in the truest sense. And perhaps he will actually leave prison (if he lives through it) changed for the better rather than worse. Hope springs eternal...

As for the girls, their lives are changed forever - for the worse. There is no bright side to be found for them. They have years of therapy to look forward to, years of feeling used, abused, worthless, hopeless, fearful, mistrustful, depressed, ashamed and generally unhappy.

Thanks, Mr. Rooney, for creating yet a few more angst-filled, lost souls on a planet already way too overpopulated with them. I hope life brings you everything you deserve.

This makes me want to cry. I heard this morning that he got 8 years in jail (not nearly enough as far as I'm concerned). And he was crying when they read the sentence. I'm a little bit confused as to how the girl was able to go to New York with him when she was 15 or 16 years old. How could her parents now know about that?

Only 8 years? Lewd conduct? What was on the judges mind?
This child molester will be released in 4 years, and although he shouldn't be allowed to work in a school, he will find a way to claim more victims.
Guess no one in the court system learned anything from the Dugard story.

These girls' parents should sue the pants off the LAUSD. Outrageous!

LAUSD should be sued for everything they have for reassigning this scumbag to Fremont and Markham. They should be convicted of involuntary manslaughter or something for the rape and sodomizing of that girl at Markham/Fremont. The district knew that this teacher had a relationship with a student--police evidence proved this. Just because the psychologically scarred girl dropped her charges the union decided to take up this case and press the district to reassign him and the district caved. They are responsible for the Markham/Fremont victims. If only the families had the resources to press charges...where's Gloria Allred when you need her?

What a horrible person! 8 years is not enough! He ruined the lives of his' victims! I work for LAUSD and i can't believe they reassigned him to another school...We need to work as a district and review our policy. I would not want to work with him nor have him teach my children.

How is the District's behavior any different from the Catholic Church? Why are the people, who allowed this despicable creature to molest child after child at one school after another, not punished as well? Not only did Rooney's superiors have the power to stop this (report to police/fire him), they had a moral obligation to protect the children in their districts. Why should they get off scot-free after trying to cover their a$$ by pawning him off to another school to destroy another child's life? And where is the outrage by the parents? What sort of message do you think this gives to the children? That to be an adult means you act irresponsibly and selfishly injure others to satisfy your own base desires and ambitions? - and I'm not just talking about Rooney.

He only gets 8 years. Something is wrong with the system when an individual like this only gets 8 years. he should serve 25.

A sentence of eight years seems much too short for these offenses. I would have gone for 25 years at a minimum.

Any administrator who shifts a sick and dangerous person from one school to another should forfeit their ability to continue on in education. School must be safe, yet safety is usually framed as safety from street violence and not safety from incompetent and dangerous adults. We must have a zero tolerance policy for abusers in our schools. No transfers of offenders from school to school should be permitted. This is just sick.

This is so disgusting to me. Who would ever want to do something like that? I think he should get more than 8 years in prison because he knew what he was doing to these young girls and for him to do that makes him a nasty, desperate, and disrespectful.I cant imagine my child going through this and me not knowing.Its a very horrible situation and I think he was in the wrong.

What bothers me the most as a parent myself is how did it go on so long, and for this child to live with this sicko, and travel with him is beyond me. I feel this child's parents have failed her too, because who gave her the permission to live or travel with this sick pedophile, even if she was a hard head and wouldn't listen to her parents, and ran away at some point, my love for my child I would find out where she's at and where's she's living and with who. Me as a dad if I known my girl was living with this grown man, she would be dragged out of his house kicking and screamin', then I would have had her checked-out by her doctor right away, then called the police, or handled it myself, an be in prison. I'm just sick to hear something like this went on up to 150 times. Prison will not be kind to pedophiles like him, if he make it through the 8 years.

Uh-oh. It sounds like Rooney's lewd dean friends are gonna be in trouble, especially the one who supposedly hid the scrapbook.

This reminds me of a vice principal currently working in the La Puente school system. He worked in a previous high school where he got a high school girl pregnant. I thought every one knew about this. I presumed he would never teach again. I was amazed when I found out he was teaching and promoted to vice principal of this high school. I just wonder if he would do this again. I think he ended up marrying this school girl he got pregnant, but still bad judgement. Judgement like that should eliminate him from any positions where he has power over girls.

I think this is a testament to how afraid LAUSD is of being sued by fired employees. Well guess who's gonna pay now?

How did she manage to spend time with him and parents in New York, with parental interference? It sounds like she didn't have any supervision at home (i.e. attention), which left her gullible and needy!

This clearly is abuse. This school system has way too much power. It does not protect the students from beast like this one. They should do background checks on people that are hired to educate or administrate any school. There is just to much of this going on within our school system. Parents of children attending school should be specifically attentive to their children and the people around them. They should pay visits to their schools and introduce themselves and make it know to these individuals that you are watching and care about what is going on with their children.

When he goes to prison, don't shield him from the other inmates. That's the sentence.

isnt taking a minor across state lines a federal offense?? especially for lewd and lascivious act's?

Firstly, I'd like to say that this gives educators a bad reliability. If situations like these continue what are parents going to think? I know there isn't any secure method to stop this from occurring in schools, but its incredibly unfortunate how there is many cases like these. Parents I believe should do everything in their power to make sure their children are being treated with respect in school. And students should be taught to defend themselves, to question authority when they know its being unjust. This child molester deserves more time in jail.

The dude named "carlos" leaving a comment about another vice pricipal having sex with underage and getting her pregnant...call the school district and have them investigate...
public funded employees having sex with underage students must be fired immediately and charges brought on them.

are you kidding me? this was yesterday?? oh man, they let that guy work in another school even though he was accused of being a rapist or molester? what the heck? that disgusting!

A horrible situation for the girl but,once a girl with her age know what she was doing and thinkig she could've said no or avoid that teacher and talk to someone to hepl her... it makes me think a lot about her situation! and it makes me feel bad.

a hard situation for the student and her family,reading this article makes me feel so bad as a gurl im too i dont even want to imaged how all what Steve Thomas Rooney done to the gurl horrible situation!!!:(

I'm very disgusted at what happened to the underage girls involved. What happened to "trust" and "protect"? These girls looked up to this scum bag as a role model. Is this justice? 8 years and that's it? Many lives ruined, families and dreams shattered, souls raped and violated.
I'm angry and disgusted
Jenna


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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