Academy member gets 8-year sentence for child molestation

Jeffrey Cooper, a renowned architect and acoustics engineer whose work and innovations have spanned numerous Hollywood films and institutions, was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison on three counts of child molestation.

Cooper, a longtime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, faced a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison. He must also register as a sex offender.

Prior to the sentencing in Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys, David Ring, an attorney representing Cooper’s two accusers and their families, filed a civil complaint against the architect alleging “personal injury and damage from childhood sexual abuse” in Los Angeles Superior Court a.

The civil suit also names the Calabasas Shul, the synagogue that Cooper founded in Calabasas in 1994 and of which he was chairman. According to the lawsuit, the synagogue operated out of a residential property that Cooper owned, paid his rent, and also hosted “religious functions and meetings at Cooper’s home and other locations.”

The lawsuit alleges that Cooper “used his position of authority and trust as chairman and founder of the Shul to engage in unlawful sexual abuse and other harmful misconduct with the plaintiffs.”

“The two victims and their families are relieved that after four long and brutal years the criminal proceedings are finally over. You can now start civil proceedings against Cooper and the Shul with the goal of bringing all those responsible to full justice in the civil courts,” Ring said.

After a two-week criminal trial in May, a jury convicted Cooper of three felonies for an indecent act on a child involving one of his accusers.

However, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on five counts against Cooper, which involved a second prosecutor. Judge Alan Schneider declared a mistrial on these charges.

The trial came four years after Cooper’s arrest, and a grand jury indicted him on eight counts involving two minor children. Cooper, a Calabasas resident, pleaded not guilty.

In his opening remarks, Jackson called the allegations false, part of a “money game” and called his client a “target” because of his “wealth, status and resources”.

In June 2018, detectives with the LA County Special Victims Bureau arrested Cooper, then 66, on suspicion of multiple counts of child molestation, according to court records. The crimes allegedly took place between November 2006 and November 2007 for one victim and between January 2012 and July 2016 for the second, according to the criminal complaint accompanying the arrest warrant.

The two accusers are now 16 and 28 years old.

The 28-year-old victim and her parents made catchphrases. She said she remained “haunted” by what happened, calling the past four years “emotional torture.”

She said it was “difficult for me to trust people, difficult for me to stand up for myself,” adding that it took her years “to pronounce the word ‘harassed’.”

“I’m no longer the little girl you used without voice or power. I stand before you now as a woman with her voice and her power. You no longer have that power, I do. You didn’t take me from who I am.”

Cooper wept as a longtime family friend, his younger brother and daughter appealed to the court on his behalf, saying the allegations “do not reflect the man I know and love.”

Prior to the conviction, Cooper’s attorney Jackson filed a motion for a new trial, citing both procedural and prosecutorial errors. Judge Schneider denied the request.

In sentencing Cooper, the judge noted that he had no prior criminal record, had done much for his community, family and career, but “used those things to enable him to commit this crime.”

According to the civil suit, Cooper’s sexual abuse of one of the alleged victims was “eventually disclosed” to synagogue rabbi Yakov Vann. However, the lawsuit states, “No action was taken by Rabbi Vann or anyone else at the shul in response to this disclosure of sexual abuse, including a failure to report it to law enforcement.”

The complaint further alleges that both the rabbi and the synagogue “attempted to cover up the abuse and prevent anyone from finding out” in order to “financially protect the reputation” of the synagogue and the rabbi since “Cooper controlled and dictated his salary.”

Vann did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that Vann was also made aware of allegations of sexual abuse by the second underage victim, but like with the first victim, “no action was taken by him or anyone else in the shul in response.”

Vann and others at the synagogue “had a responsibility and duty to reasonably and properly investigate and supervise Cooper to ensure he did not engage in wrongdoing toward children who were part of the shul,” the lawsuit states. “Prior to Cooper’s sexual abuse against the plaintiffs, he had engaged in inappropriate and suspicious behavior around minors, which should have been red flags, requiring additional monitoring and safeguards to ensure he was not complicit in wrongdoing.”

Cooper, the suit states, “would have regular physical contact with minors,” including “providing shoulder massages” and “trying to have minors sit on his lap,” as well as “regularly taking minors to his basement during shul events.” . and gatherings that had soundproof music rooms.”

Over the years, Cooper earned a reputation in Hollywood as a top designer of cinemas and recording studios, including an Academy of Television Arts and Sciences theater, as well as more than two dozen mixing studios that produced Oscar-nominated artists, according to the website of his eponymous, in Calabasas based company.

Cooper designed home studios for a slew of top directors including Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Beyond Hollywood, Cooper was the architect behind the Aish HaTorah World Center in Jerusalem, and he proposed the design for a slavery and culture museum in Benin, according to a Medium essay he authored in 2020.

In 2002, Cooper became a member of the Film Academy for his contributions to acoustics and theater design.

The academy is struggling to deal with members accused of misconduct and has yet to publicly comment on Cooper’s conviction.

“The Academy has been made aware of the alleged abhorrent conduct and will address this matter in accordance with our standards of conduct and due process requirements under the California Nonprofit Business Act. We would have grounds under our rules to disfellowship any member convicted of a violent crime,” the organization said in a statement to Cooper at the start of his trial.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-07-25/academy-member-sentenced-to-tk-for-child-molestation-now-faces-civil-suit Academy member gets 8-year sentence for child molestation

Sarah Ridley

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