Former School Administrator Gets 8 Years in Prison for Sex with Teens
By Fred Shuster
City News Service
A former Los Angeles school administrator who had sexual relations with four teenage girls, one of whom became pregnant, was sentenced today to eight years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 in fines and restitution.
Steve Thomas Rooney, 40, also must register as a sex offender for life. He will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence before being eligible for release.
Rooney pleaded no contest last month to three counts of lewd acts with a child and one count of unlawful sexual intercourse. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marcelita V. Haynes ordered him taken into custody immediately after he entered his plea.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said last month that Rooney was fired by the nation’s second-largest school district after a “thorough investigation.”
Since Rooney’s arrest, the LAUSD “has put into place at least 50 additional investigative, corrective and proactive measures to protect children,” according to Cortines.
The case involved two girls Rooney met at Foshay Learning Center, where he initially worked as a teacher and later became the dean of students, and two other girls he met at Markham Middle School, where he worked as an assistant principal.
Rooney was initially charged with 13 felony counts involving three teenage girls, including a former Foshay student who testified at a May 2008 hearing that she began dating him in 2005, when she was 15, and had a relationship with him that lasted about 1 1/2 years and included a pregnancy that ended with a miscarriage.
At the hearing in which Rooney was ordered to stand trial, the other two girls testified that they met Rooney while he was working as an assistant principal at Markham Middle School in early 2008.
One of the girls, who was 13, testified that Rooney repeatedly told her that he loved her, took her on a motorcycle to his apartment and ignored her protests that she didn’t want to have sex.
The other girl, a 15-year-old, testified that Rooney had grabbed her buttocks in his office on one occasion and her breasts on another occasion, and kissed her breasts in another instance.
In June, Rooney was ordered to stand trial on five more felony counts involving a fourth teenage girl, who is now 19.
The girl testified that she and Rooney kissed twice at Foshay Learning Center — including once in an office that didn’t belong to Rooney — and that he picked her up by her house on one occasion and they went to a park where they “started making out.”
She said “everything was consensual,” and that she wasn’t sure how old she was at the time, although prosecutors said the conduct occurred between June 2004 and June 2006, beginning when she was 14 years old. She said the two didn’t have sex.
The girl acknowledged that she initially told a police investigator that nothing happened, and that she only spoke up after being contacted by an attorney. But she said she did not want to be a plaintiff in any lawsuit against the LAUSD.Â