A major child sex abuse scandal has erupted in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Where's the national media?
- Steve Thomas Rooney faces 13 felony sex-related counts, including charges that he had unlawful sex with two female students, ages 13 and 14, during the time he was an assistant principal at a middle school. And here's the kicker: In August 2007 LAUSD assigned Rooney to his job even though it knew that police had investigated him about an alleged sexual relationship with a student at his previous job at a high school. The former high school girl has since testified that Rooney impregnated her. (LAT coverage)
- KNX 1070 Newsradio has reported "21 teachers and administrators have been yanked from schools in the past year because of allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with kids." Most of the cases happened since only January of this year.
- Two LAUSD administrators face criminal charges for failing to report suspected child abuse by a substitute teacher. Yet LAUSD has sent the pair back to work at school! (LAT)
- During interviews, LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer has often come across utterly uninformed on the scandal. (Listen to this must-hear KNX audio.)
- When LAUSD Deputy Superintendent Ramon Cortines was questioned over the phone about the scandal by KNX reporter Charles Feldman, Cortines became agitated and hung up on Feldman. (Hear the audio.) In discussing the scandal with KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, Cortines defiantly responded, "This is not out of the ordinary for school districts all over the nation. These things happen."
"These things happen"?!? Hold on. LAUSD has been through this before. In 1986, an LAUSD teacher was sentenced to 44 years in prison on 30 counts that he molested 13 students at 68th Street Elementary in South Los Angeles. Even after years of complaints about the teacher, officials had failed to report the suspected molestations to Los Angeles police. In 1990, the District paid a multi-million dollar lawsuit as a result of the case. (HT: Must-read by LAT's Sandy Banks. Also: Read about the case here, here, here, and here.)
Where's the national media on this current scandal? By comparison, look at how the media has covered decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by clergy of the Catholic Church. Since 2002, the coverage has been voluminous and incessant. (The Boston Globe alone ran a mind-blowing 989 articles related to the scandal in the 2002 calendar year.) Years later, the media still takes joy in hammering the Church, even with misinformation and falsehoods (as we've chronicled here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
When it comes to the abuse of children, it sure seems like the national media doesn't get too worked up unless the words "Cardinal," "bishop," or "priest" is in someone's job title.
Imagine the media uproar if a Cardinal or bishop had dismissively responded, "These things happen," when asked about child sexual abuse in his organization. You can also bet that if it were the Catholic Church, the media would be angrily demanding the names and locations of those 21 teachers and administrators.
Double standard? Absolutely.