Pittsburgh police charge school police officer with abusing four students
A former Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer accused of abusing children was arraigned Thursday morning on numerous charges and ordered held on $1 million bond.
Pittsburgh police on Wednesday charged Officer Robert Lellock, 43, of Beltzhoover with child endangerment, corruption of minors and sex crimes after a three-week investigation into allegations he abused students. He is charged with 23 counts involving four accusers.
Lellock declined to answer questions as detectives brought him to police headquarters in the North Side shortly after 4 p.m. Attorney Timothy Kidd could not be reached for comment. He is accused of targeting troubled students and in one instance of telling a boy that he would kill him and his family if he told anyone about sexual assaults, which police say date back to 1998.
“It's unfortunate when it involves another police officer,” city Lt. Kevin Kraus said. “But we certainly believe these charges are substantial and significant.”
Hours later, the school board voted 7-1 to accept the resignation Lellock had submitted this month, effective Sept. 11.
More charges are possible, Kraus said. Detectives arrested him at a home on Orangewood Avenue in Beechview. Kraus described Lellock as “calm” when he arrived at the home to surrender. People at the home declined to comment.
Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, said his office is investigating whether school administrators did enough to stop the alleged assaults.
Internal district communications obtained by the Tribune-Review show officials knew about at least one alleged incident involving Lellock and a male student in 1999. The district suspended Lellock for 20 days.
Following the school board's vote, Superintendent Linda Lane held a news conference during which she responded to questions about the district's handling of the 1999 incident, saying: “I'm not going to discuss the '99 case because I was not here.”
In response to a question about whether the district would implement any changes in light of the charges against Lellock, Lane said, “The policies and procedures in place are correct.”
Lellock worked at the district since 1990 and was paid $51,180 a year. The district suspended him with pay on July 25 based on allegations by a former student who said Lellock had inappropriate sexual contact with him while he was a student at Rooney Middle School.
According to a police complaint and affidavit, Lellock targeted troubled middle school students age 13 or 14. He caught one victim with a stolen credit card and another with marijuana. Three victims attended Rooney's “alternative classroom” program for problem students.
One accuser, now 27, told investigators during an Aug. 27 interview that he came forward because he has two young children and suffered flashbacks from the assault.
The man told investigators that Lellock brought him into a supply closet at Rooney when he was 13 and sexually assaulted him at least 20 times after he began attending school there in 1998.
Each time, Lellock would whisper to him that he would kill him and his family if the victim ever told, the affidavit states. At one point, Lellock picked him up in a police car, drove him to a parking lot near Woods Run Road and ordered him to perform a sex act, the accuser told police.
The victim said he became so afraid of the sexual abuse that he brought a knife to school. Someone caught him with the knife, and school officials expelled him, he said.
Another accuser, 27, said Lellock caught him with marijuana and would remind him how he “let it go,” the complaint states. Lellock brought him up to a janitor closet, pressed himself against the victim and fondled him, the complaint states.
A third man, also 27, told police that Lellock would walk with him on school grounds when he caught him skipping class. In one incident, Lellock handcuffed him to a locker and touched him, the accuser said. He told Lellock to stop, and the officer treated the incident as a joke, the complaint states.
The fourth accuser, 28, told police that Lellock never sexually assaulted him but encouraged him to skip class and brought him marijuana and would drive him around in his police car during school hours, the complaint states.
Police were able to charge Lellock after the normal statute of limitations for the charges expired after two to five years because of extensions in state law in cases of child abuse and because Lellock was a public employee.
Staff writer Bill Zlatos contributed to this report. Margaret Harding and Adam Brandolph are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Harding can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Brandolph can be reached at 412-391-0927 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Pirates plan to carry Hurdle deep into playoffs
- Steelers’ Tomlin does not like his coaching style to be characterized
- State trooper shot and killed during training exercise
- Knife-wielding man attacks 2 in Sheetz lot in Greensburg
- Despres is relishing his regular role on Penguins’ blue line
- Penguins notebook: Malkin picture muddy
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin bringing officials to practice
- Pittsburgh rises up for a 2nd year of Pirates magic
- Franklin Regional stabbing suspect could leave Pa. for treatment
- Pirates notebook: Martin feels ‘pretty good,’ will start vs. Giants
- Gorman: Lincoln Park charade over