Revelations of administrators’ mishandling of sexually abuse committed in the Los Angeles Unified School District have prompted comparisons to the clerical sexual abuse scandal that has afflicted the Catholic Church in recent years. Some are charging that there is a double standard which treats sexual abuse committed by educators less harshly than that committed by clerics.
The scandal that has brought the comparison to light is that of former assistant school principal Steve Thomas Rooney, who faces 13 felony sex-related counts. They include charges that he had unlawful sex with two female students ages 13 and 14 while he was assistant principal at a middle school.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) assigned Rooney to the middle school in August 2007 despite knowing that police had investigated Rooney about an alleged sexual relationship with a student at his previous school. The former high school student has since testified that Rooney impregnated her.
Other cases of alleged sexual abuse are pending. KNX 1070 Newsradio reports that “21 teachers and administrators have been pulled from schools in the past year because of allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with kids.” Most of the allegations have been made since January 2008.
However, when Superintendent David Brewer was asked about the number of cases since January 2008, he said, "I don't have any data on that, I'll have to get back to you on that."
LAUSD Deputy Superindendent Ramon Cortines discussed the scandal with KNBC TV, saying, “This is not out of the ordinary for school districts all over the nation. These things happen.”
Dave Pierre, a writer for NewsBusters, argued that there was a double standard in media coverage.
“By comparison,” Pierre wrote, “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.”
“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,” Pierre wrote.