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Dean held in Rooney molest case

Foshay official is accused of hiding evidence of a sexual relationship between colleague and student.

June 13, 2008|Andrew Blankstein and Victoria Kim | Times Staff Writers

The dean of students at a South Los Angeles school was arrested Thursday for allegedly concealing evidence that one of his colleagues, former Assistant Principal Steve Thomas Rooney, had a sexual relationship with a student.

Alan Hubbard, 49, was charged with two felony counts of being an accessory after the fact to a crime and dissuading a witness, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. After surrendering to Los Angeles police, he was being held in lieu of $120,000 bail late Thursday and was scheduled to be arraigned today.

"This is a notice for school officials," Officer Moses Castillo said at a news conference announcing the arrest. "If you're going to be withholding evidence of child abuse, there's going to be consequences."

Hubbard came under suspicion after detectives discovered that for more than a year he had kept photos, notes and a scrapbook that documented the relationship between Rooney and a former student at Foshay Learning Center.

The Los Angeles Unified School District administrator allegedly received the materials in spring 2007 from a friend of the former student who had collected them.

At the time, the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating allegations that Rooney had a long-term sexual relationship with the student, beginning when she was 15.

District officials last month put Hubbard on administrative leave in connection with the Rooney case.

When detectives interviewed Hubbard, he told them he was "keeping them for Rooney" and said he didn't know exactly what the items were, LAPD officials said last month.

The photos and notes are important because they show that Rooney and the student had a relationship outside of school. In court, prosecutors displayed portions of the scrapbook, which included photos showing Rooney and the girl kissing.

LAPD officials said detectives had not known about the photos until last month, when they demanded that the dean turn over the materials.

Meanwhile, the principal of Del Rey Continuation School in Westchester was arrested Thursday on suspicion of possessing child pornography on his personal computer, Castillo announced at the news conference.

Randolph Barnett Cornfield, 60, was arrested at his home without incident, Castillo said. The 28-year L.A. Unified veteran is being held on $20,000 bail.

"We're dealing with individuals in a position of trust and authority, and they violated that authority," said Castillo, who is the investigating officer in the Hubbard and Cornfield cases.

Also Thursday, an assistant coach at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys was charged with 12 felony counts of sexually assaulting an underage girl, authorities said.

Kevin Lamont Thomas, 40, was charged with one count of a lewd act on a 15-year-old girl, five counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object while the girl was unconscious, five counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object on a child younger than 18 and one count of possession of child pornography, authorities said.

Thomas, who coached basketball during the summer and gave private lessons, allegedly assaulted the girl, who is now 19, on several occasions between 2004 and 2006, authorities said. Thomas, who was arrested Tuesday and is being held on $670,000 bail, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.

The alleged victim came forward this week on the advice of her parents, police said. Based on information she gave detectives, police said they believe there may be other victims.

District Supt. David L. Brewer said Thursday that one reason more sexual assault cases may be coming to light is because of heightened awareness throughout the district.

"I'm looking for more diligence on the part of employees," he said.

"As we said last week, we expected some additional arrests in this case," he added, referring to the Rooney case.

He said the district already screens potential employees for criminal history but that there are plans to revisit hiring policies.

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andrew.blankstein@ latimes.com

victoria.kim@latimes.com

Times staff writer Jason Song contributed to this report.

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