Former LA Unified administrator sentenced to prison for molestation

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A judge on Tuesday sentenced a former Los Angeles Unified school administrator to eight years in state prison for molesting four students. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the incidents, and the way the school district handled them, sparked outrage last year.

Last month, 40-year-old Steve Thomas Rooney pleaded no contest to four counts of child molestation – including a lewd act on a child younger than 14. Rooney had worked at Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles as a teacher, then as dean of students.

He molested two female students there, then administrators transferred him to Markham Middle School in Watts, where he was an assistant principal. Police arrested him on suspicion of sexually molesting a 13-year-old student at that school, and after that arrest another girl reported that Rooney had molested her, too.

Parents at Markham expressed fury against L.A. Unified officials when they found out that other school administrators knew of the allegations against Rooney when he was moved from one school to another. The district conducted its own investigation and fired him. An L.A. Superior Court judge also ordered Rooney to pay $5,000 dollars in fines and to register as a sex offender.