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Prosecutor: Former Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer 'victimized' boys

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Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Robert Lellock of Beltzhoover, a suspended city schools police officer, is brought into police headquarters on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 12:33 p.m.
 

A former Arthur J. Rooney Middle School student told a jury Tuesday that Robert Lellock pulled him out of class once or twice a week over five months to sexually assault him inside a janitor's closet.

“It made me feel real uncomfortable and scared,” said Lellock's accuser, now 28, during the first day of the former Pittsburgh Public Schools security guard's trial. “It made me feel scared because I knew what he was doing wasn't right, wasn't normal.”

Lellock, 44, of Beltzhoover is charged with crimes including indecent assault, corruption of minors, false imprisonment, official oppression and making terroristic threats. His trial could last a week.

The alleged victim, the first of four men in their late 20s who reported similar assaults to authorities, attended the Brighton Heights school from September 1998 to February 1999.

The Tribune-Review does not identify victims or alleged victims of sexual assault.

Lellock's attorney, Timothy J. Kidd, said his client often took students into the closet to get information about what was going on in the school.

“There is no evidence to challenge other than what these adults are going to tell you,” Kidd told the jury of six men and eight women. “How do you go back 14 years in time and scream, ‘I didn't do it.' ”

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Schulte said Lellock turned a janitor's closet into “breeding grounds for child molestation.”

“He used all the tools to keep his victims quiet: power, fear, shame, humiliation and intimidation. For years, it worked. That stops right now, in this courtroom,” Schulte said.

The man who testified on Tuesday claimed Lellock inappropriately touched him more than a dozen times under the threat that Lellock would get him into trouble or hurt his family if he told anyone. District administrators expelled him after he brought a knife to school to defend himself against the assaults.

“I was feeling a lot of feelings I didn't understand. I was really confused,” he said. “I felt really guilty because I wasn't stopping him from doing this, but I was too afraid to say something.”

In the years afterward, the man said he told his girlfriend, his mother and counselors at a Gateway Rehab program, but none contacted authorities. He said he spoke to a state trooper in 2005 after reporting the assault to a counselor at the New Castle Youth Development Center, but there was no report issued and they did not contact Pittsburgh police.

“The system perpetually let him down every step of the way,” Schulte said.

In July 2012, the man called Pittsburgh Public Schools to see what had become of his complaint, but district officials told him it was the first they had heard of it. Administrators immediately contacted Pittsburgh police, which prompted a three-week investigation.

The school district hired Lellock in 1990 and paid him $51,180 a year. It suspended him with pay last July, and he resigned in September.

Police charged Lellock after the statute of limitations had expired because state law later extended the time limit for child abuse and because Lellock was a public employee.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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