Former Rooney Middle School student testifies that ex-schools cop sexually abused him
July 23, 2013 7:32 PM
J. Monroe Butler II/Post-Gazette file
Robert Lellock, 43, of Beltzhoover a suspended Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer is escorted from police headquarters to Allegheny County Jail in September, after being charged with nearly two dozen counts of sex crimes.
By Paula Reed Ward Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
At least three professional entities -- including the Pennsylvania State Police -- were made aware of sexual abuse allegations against a Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer, although no action was taken over a period of several years.
That information was revealed Tuesday during the first day of trial for former Officer Robert Lellock, who is charged with more than a dozen counts, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, criminal solicitation and endangering the welfare of children.
Mr. Lellock, who resigned from his job last year, was charged after a man, now 28, contacted school police last summer to find out if charges had ever been filed related to the allegations he had made.
That man was then referred to Pittsburgh police, who launched an investigation and ultimately filed charges related to four alleged victims.
The allegations date to 1998, and the first person to come forward testified Tuesday that during his initial meeting with Mr. Lellock, the officer grabbed his genitalia.
It was a threat, he said.
The witness said he met Mr. Lellock, now 44, in the summer of 1998, when the student went to look at the then-new Arthur J. Rooney Middle School before he was to start classes there in the fall.
He told the jury of six men and six women that Mr. Lellock approached him and offered to give him a tour of the school and then grabbed the boy's genitals.
The incident made him uncomfortable and scared, the witness said, but he didn't report it.
It wasn't until after the school year started that the boy saw Mr. Lellock again when the man pulled him out of his classroom during a school day.
From that point on, the witness said Mr. Lellock took him out of class once or twice per week -- about 40 times in all -- and conversations between them turned to sex.
It evolved, the witness said, into the officer, who was always wearing his uniform, forcing him to touch the man, or the man touching him. The witness said he also was subjected to forcible oral sex.
By February of that school year, the student had been expelled for taking a pocket knife to school.
"I was having thoughts of stabbing him," he testified.
The witness said he told a drug and alcohol counselor at Gateway Rehabilitation in Aliquippa about the abuse a couple of years later.
That woman made the boy call his mother and talk to her about what happened, but neither woman called police.
Then, years later while he was being held at the New Castle Youth Development Center, when he was 19 or 20, the witness said he told a counselor there. She contacted state police.
Although a state trooper went to the facility to take the young man's statement, nothing ever came of it, the witness said.
During his opening statement, assistant district attorney Patrick Schulte told the jurors that the adults in the young man's life failed him.
"The system perpetually let him down every step of the way," he said.
Neither the state police nor Gateway responded to a request for comment.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Timothy Kidd repeatedly questioned the man's time frame and estimate of how many times he was pulled out of class.
He was enrolled in the school only from September to February, missed almost two weeks when he was in a juvenile placement facility, and would have had breaks for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Still, the young man stuck by his estimates.
In characterizing the alleged victims, Mr. Schulte told the jurors that they would not hear from the class president or captain of the football team.
"The kids you're going to hear from are the down and out," he said. "They're juvenile delinquents. They're thieves. They're drug users. They're kids on in-school suspension. In other words, they're the perfect victim from a child molester's perspective."
Mr. Schulte conceded that there is no physical evidence or DNA in the case.
Mr. Lellock's attorney, Mr. Kidd, told the jurors during his opening that because of the time elapsed between the alleged crimes and when his client was charged, they needed to look for inconsistencies from the alleged victims.
"The only thing there is to challenge is what they say and how they say it," he said. "How do you go back 14 years in time and scream, 'I didn't do this.' You must put yourselves in his shoes."