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Ex-L.A. dean sentenced for hiding evidence against teacher

October 07, 2008|Howard Blume | Times Staff Writer

A former Los Angeles school dean pleaded no contest Monday to a charge of failing to turn over evidence related to an alleged unlawful sexual relationship between an underage student and a teacher.

Prosecutors had alleged that Alan Hubbard, 49, a dean at Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles, learned of an illicit relationship between a Foshay teacher and that teacher's former student. Instead of going to authorities, Hubbard allegedly hid a romantic scrapbook prepared by the girl and discouraged her from testifying against his colleague, Steve Thomas Rooney.

Rooney was subsequently arrested on molestation-related charges involving other girls at a different L.A. school a year later. He also faces charges in the Foshay case.

As part of a plea agreement, Judge Alex Ricciardulli sentenced Hubbard to three years' probation, 60 days of service on a road crew and $220 in fines. The government dropped a second charge of obstructing justice, which referred to Hubbard's alleged efforts to dissuade the girl from cooperating with police.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials removed Hubbard from contact with students on May 2, when detectives reported that they had widened the Rooney investigation to include Hubbard's alleged role. The district is proceeding with an internal probe of Hubbard, officials said.

Hubbard also faces a lawsuit filed by the former Foshay student, which includes some new allegations. The suit states that the girl's Spanish-speaking grandmother went to Foshay near the end of 2006 because she "suspected Rooney was sexually exploiting" the girl. Hubbard allegedly served as a translator when another staff member told the grandmother that she should "keep quiet because it would hurt [the girl's] reputation and assured her that Rooney would be transferred to another school."

District policy and state law required Hubbard and the other staff member to report possible abuse, but neither did, the lawsuit alleges.

Rooney first came to the attention of authorities in early 2007, when police arrested him for allegedly waving a gun at the girl's stepfather. During the investigation, detectives became convinced that Rooney was having a relationship with the girl.

The girl then contacted Hubbard, admitting to him that she had been having sex with Rooney, according to the lawsuit. "Instead of assisting her," the complaint alleges, "Hubbard immediately instructed her to not cooperate with the [Los Angeles Police Department] and told her to recant her previous statements to them."

The lawsuit also names Rooney, the school district and other individual district employees as defendants.

Investigators dropped the gun case for lack of evidence. And no sex-related charge was initially filed because the girl at that time refused to testify, police said.

Rooney is awaiting trial on molestation charges related to two Markham Middle School students, the Foshay student -- who is now cooperating with investigators -- and a fourth alleged victim. He has denied wrongdoing.

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howard.blume@latimes.com

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