"I trusted [Thompson]. He was endorsed by L.A. Unified School District," the victim's mother testified.
Between July 2002 and March 2003, Thompson repeatedly forced the boy to perform sexual acts, according to amended criminal charges in 2005 alleging eight counts of lewd acts with a child.
After a jury acquitted Thompson on five counts and could not agree on the other three, a mistrial was declared. In a second trial that ended in November 2005, the jury acquitted him of all remaining charges.
Within a week, Thompson was reassigned to Blythe Street Elementary School in Reseda to be a special education aide to a female second-grader, according to his later testimony. It is unclear whether his new principal was told of the prior allegations.
Shortly after his arrival on campus, however, an attorney for the district had Thompson pulled from the classroom because of concerns about his history. District leaders then reminded personnel administrators to warn principals about employees who had been accused of a sex offense before they were returned to the classroom.
Meanwhile, the family of the Germain student had sued the district in 2004, contending that the boy suffered from nightmares and sometimes refused to kiss his mother, fearing he still had Thompson's germs in his mouth. After the case was settled in 2006, the mother said she got a call from an L.A. Unified lawyer asking her to help the district fire Thompson by testifying in a disciplinary hearing.
"It was hard to do after all they put us through in the civil" case, she said. "But I just wanted to make sure it would never happen again."
Thompson was ultimately fired. The district cited his forged letter of recommendation and "molestation" of a student, records show. He could not be reached for comment.
A public outcry
Based on the district's own policies and pronouncements, the actions of Steve Thomas Rooney should have been thoroughly scrutinized by the district in 2007.
That year, before he was transferred to Markham Middle School as assistant principal, Rooney had been arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He allegedly brandished a handgun at the stepfather of a student who attended Foshay Learning Center in the Exposition Park area, where Rooney had been a dean.
Police told senior district officials that they had found evidence in Rooney's home of a possible sexual relationship between Rooney and the student, police later told The Times.
But the student, 17, did not cooperate with the LAPD investigation, police said. No charges were filed.
Without conducting their own investigation, L.A. Unified officials reassigned Rooney to Markham after a few months.
In 2008, Rooney was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 13-year old female student from Markham at his home.
Since then, he has been charged with various sexual crimes involving four girls, two former students at Foshay and two at Markham. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for later this month. He has pleaded not guilty.
The second arrest prompted a public outcry. After apologizing, then-Supt. David L. Brewer issued an order making the superintendent personally responsible for deciding whether someone accused of molestation should be returned to a classroom. He also ordered improved procedures for notifying principals of new employees' past misconduct and pledged to work more closely with law enforcement.
The mother of Thompson's alleged victim is skeptical of the district's promises. When a reporter talked to her earlier this year about the Rooney case, she wept.
"All I wanted was to effect change," she said, referring to her cooperation with the district. But when she learned of the latest allegations against Rooney, "that's when I realized I have failed."