On the stand, ex-Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer says he did not sexually abuse former students

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

Former Pittsburgh Public Schools police Officer Robert Lellock took the stand Thursday and told the jury hearing his sex abuse trial that he never molested anyone.

"They're lying," he told Assistant District Attorney Patrick Schulte on cross-examination.

Mr. Lellock is charged with crimes including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and endangering the welfare of children dating to 1998. He was charged last summer.

Under questioning by his attorney, Mr. Lellock told the jury he was never assigned to Arthur J. Rooney Middle School, where the alleged assaults occurred, but that it was among the 18 schools he patrolled when assigned in a cruiser on the North Side.

Four men who attended the school in the late 1990s testified earlier in the trial that Mr. Lellock molested them in a second-floor janitorial closet in the school. Two of those men also said he either touched or propositioned them in his police car as well.

Mr. Lellock said he didn't remember having met any of the boys who made allegations against him, although he did have a record in his personal files of one of the students having been caught with a knife at school.

He answered "absolutely not" when asked by his attorney, Timothy Kidd, if he took any students into a janitorial closet, molested them or handcuffed them.

"Did you ever have any inappropriate contact with [the victim]?" Mr. Kidd asked.

"Absolutely not," Mr. Lellock answered.

On cross-examination, Mr. Schulte peppered the defendant repeatedly with questions like, "While you were at Perry High School did you molest any students?"

Each time Mr. Schulte substituted in a new school name, Mr. Lellock answered, "Absolutely not. I didn't molest no one, sir."

"How many did you molest in your patrol car?" Mr. Schulte asked.

"None, sir," Mr. Lellock answered.

In closing arguments, Mr. Kidd told the jury -- repeating a statement he made in his opening -- that it's hard to defend allegations dating back 14 years.

But, he continued, the jurors should consider that Mr. Lellock interacted with potentially hundreds of thousands of students during his 22-year career, and only four made allegations against him.

"This all started when [the first victim] made a report," Mr. Kidd said. "Everything that happened after that became a trickle-down effect.

"Does [the victim] have an ax to grind? I don't know. Was [the victim] molested? I don't know. Did Officer Lellock do it? I don't think so."

He noted that one of the alleged victims has filed a civil lawsuit against his client.

Mr. Kidd asked the jury to consider a calendar his client put together with notes from his own records about where he was during the 1998-99 school year. It also showed how much school the first alleged victim missed that year.

That man, when he testified Tuesday, told the jury that Mr. Lellock pulled him out of class that year 40 to 50 times.

"How could you not have any reasonable doubt?" Mr. Kidd asked.

But Mr. Schulte dismissed Mr. Lellock's calendar, calling it "a bunch of hooey.

"I want you to look at it as how much opportunity did Officer Lellock have to molest children," the prosecutor said. "Officer Lellock wants you to believe he was too busy to molest. That's his defense."

As for allegations of ulterior motives from the victim, Mr. Schulte said, "There's no collusion between my victims. They don't know each other."

Throughout his closing, he referenced the first alleged victim, and how the young man reported what he said happened to him to three entities -- a Gateway drug and rehab counselor, the New Castle Youth Development Center and the Pennsylvania State Police -- over a period of several years, to no avail.

"What happened to his investigation is absolutely atrocious," Mr. Schulte said. "Think about how this child, this young adult, was let down through the course of his life."

He asked the jury of six men and six women, who will begin deliberating Monday, to try to restore some of what was lost.

"For each and every one of these kids, something was taken from them," Mr. Schulte said. "I want you to tell those four victims they don't have to be afraid anymore. I want you tell them they don't have to be ashamed anymore. I want you to tell them they don't have to be helpless anymore.

"And you tell them that you believe them by finding the defendant guilty of the charges against him."

education - mobilehome - neigh_city - breaking

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 and on Twitter: @PaulaReedWard. First Published July 25, 2013 12:30 AM


You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here