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Victim of sexual abuse by educator feels 'worthless and guilty'

The former student says ex-L.A. Unified administrator Steve Thomas Rooney ruined her life, according to a probation report. Another victim says Rooney 'had sex with me as often as he wanted.'

September 17, 2009|Richard Winton

A 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.

The school official, Steve Thomas Rooney, was sentenced to eight years in state prison this week 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, between the ages of 15 and 17, by her account, she and Rooney had a "long-term affair."

Much of the time Rooney was a dean at Foshay Learning Center, a South Los Angeles campus 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 L.A. loft for parts of 2005 to '07.

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 Rooney to Fremont High in South L.A. and then Markham Middle School in Watts as an assistant principal. Police allege that he found two more victims at Markham.

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's attorney, Dmitry Gorin, says his client is remorseful and has had counseling for his behavior.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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