Three young men testified Friday that former Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer Robert Lellock sexually abused them at Arthur J. Rooney Middle School in the late 1990s.
After listening to their stories, District Judge Richard King ordered Mr. Lellock, 43, of Beltzhoover, to stand trial on 16 counts.
The district attorney's office withdrew five other counts because a fourth person didn't appear in city court to testify.
The witnesses, all in their late 20s, said Mr. Lellock pulled them out of class and abused them in a janitor's closet.
One man, now 27, said he was a 12-year-old sixth-grader when he met Mr. Lellock while hanging around the new school in the summer of 1998. During a tour of the school, he said, Mr. Lellock inquired about credit cards the boy had in his pocket, asking whether they were stolen, and then frisked him.
"He grabbed my penis through my pants and said if I told anybody about it he would put me in jail," the man said.
The same man said that on a second occasion, this time during school, Mr. Lellock grabbed his nipples and called him a name before touching his genitals and having the boy perform a sex act.
Two other men told similar stories. One said the officer "tapped" his genitals through his pants with the back of his hand and later handcuffed him briefly to a locker, although he also said Mr. Lellock "never actually grabbed me or made me do anything to him."
The third said Mr. Lellock put his hand in his pocket and "grabbed my privates."
All three men had been troubled middle schoolers between 12 and 14 when the abuse occurred, according to police.
The Post-Gazette doesn't name victims in sex cases.
Mr. Lellock's lawyer, Tim Kidd, wanted to press the witnesses into explaining why they didn't tell anyone about the incidents at the time and why it took 15 years for the accusations to reach a criminal court.
But Judge King sided with the prosecution in ruling that those questions were beyond the scope of a preliminary hearing.
The district attorney's office is investigating how abuse allegations involving Mr. Lellock in 1999 were handled by school officials.
The district said Friday in a statement that it is cooperating with the district attorney and conducting its own review of Mr. Lellock's employment history.
Mr. Lellock, a police officer since 1990, resigned from the school district last month. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail on $1 million bond.
Torsten Ove: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1510. First Published October 20, 2012 4:00 AM