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Ventura County

Retired Teacher Found Guilty

Sex crimes: Judge convicts Albert Rosen, 75, a member of the Ventura County school board, of molesting a girl more than 30 years ago.

July 04, 2002|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Ventura County school board member was convicted Wednesday of molesting a 6-year-old girl more than 30 years ago.

Albert Rosen, 75, a retired teacher and longtime member of the Ventura County Board of Education, resigned a few hours later. He was found guilty of nine criminal counts for engaging in lewd acts with a child.

Last month Rosen waived his right to a jury trial and submitted the case to Superior Court Judge Charles McGrath.

At a court hearing Wednesday, Rosen tried to withdraw the waiver, contending he had not understood what he was doing.

McGrath denied the request and then found Rosen, a Simi Valley resident, guilty on nine of 10 criminal counts.

Outside the courtroom, Rosen, who could be released on probation or sentenced to life in prison, declined to comment on the ruling.

Hours later, he sent a letter of resignation to the school board.

Defense attorney Joseph O'Neill said the ruling was expected because it was nearly impossible to mount a defense more than three decades after the crimes.

"It's absolutely unfair," O'Neill said, criticizing a state law allowing certain sex assault cases to be filed well after the statute of limitations has expired.

"This case will be reversed on appeal," O'Neill said. "I guarantee it."

But Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Ernesto Acosta said the California Supreme Court has upheld the law in question.

"I don't think they are going to get very far," Acosta said.

Rosen was arrested May 15, 2001, after a months-long investigation. His son, Ron Rosen, 44, told Simi Valley police he and a female relative had been molested by his father several times from 1966 to 1970.

According to court records, Ron Rosen had assumed no charges could be filed because the alleged incidents occurred long ago. But after reading an article on a change in the law abolishing the statute of limitations on certain sex crimes, Ron Rosen went to police and reported he had been molested as a 9-year-old.

"It was not easy to do," Ron Rosen said Wednesday after his father's court hearing.

Last fall, McGrath ruled at a preliminary hearing that there was credible evidence suggesting Albert Rosen had molested the 6-year-old girl. But he dismissed two counts involving Ron Rosen's complaints because the son had told a Los Angeles County sheriff's detective about the alleged molestation five years earlier, which meant authorities had one year to file a case.

Ron Rosen said Wednesday he recognized he was the weakest link in the case.

But Rosen said he was relieved his father was convicted on the other charges involving his relative, and hopes he and she can now move on with their lives.

"It's the beginning of closure and vindication," he said. "This was devastating to our lives. I really had no idea of the extent of what he did to [her]."

Ventura County Board of Education President Marty Bates said Rosen's conviction means he can no longer serve as a board member.

Bates said he was not surprised by the verdict, but said he is glad the ordeal is over. Rosen, a board member for 13 years, has not been an asset to the panel since his arrest more than "I think the board will be better off with a qualified replacement, and I think Simi Valley will be better off with someone who can truly represent them," he said.

County schools' Supt. Charles Weis agreed.

"This has drawn out a long time, and it's good to finally have some resolution," he said.

Board members must now decide how they will deal with Rosen's open seat. Weis said because the fall election is near, he believes Rosen's spot will have to remain unfilled until the November balloting.

Bates, however, said he will call a special meeting next week to address the issue.

If possible, Bates said, he would like the board to appoint a temporary replacement.

*

Times staff writer Jenifer Ragland contributed to this story.

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