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Academy member on trial over child molestation charges draws scrutiny

Stacy Perman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Cooper served on Calabasas' Architectural Review board and was a founder of the Calabasas Shul, an Orthodox synagogue. He is married and has five grown children.

"This has been a shock to the community," said James Bozajian, a councilmember and former mayor of the city of Calabasas. Bozajian called Cooper an acquaintance he knew through community matters over the years. Since the arrest, he said, Cooper has largely stayed away from community events.

A graduate of MIT who grew up on Toronto, Cooper devised several innovations, such as the "infinite baffle speaker wall," which dramatically amplifyies sound into a theater. In 2009, he was recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for his work on the Cleveland-based organization's 3-D Foster Theater, according to a press release.

When Cooper's trial began on Monday, prosecutor Jessica Kronstadt said the case is "about the sex abuse of two girls" by a man who was considered a "mentor" to them and was "beloved" by members of his synagogue and community. Cooper was a "trusted person in their lives and their families," she said, and he abused them in his home's soundproof music studio in "similar ways."

Cooper "never inappropriately touched anyone," Jackson told the court. "The allegations are false, full stop."

On the first day of the trial, one of the alleged victims, now 28, took the stand. She described Cooper as a "friend" and "mentor" who had known her since she was a child. She testified that she spent time at his house for Shabbat dinners and lunches with her family.

 

He was someone she could talk to about her interest in music and theater. He taught her to play guitar, and they wrote songs together in his basement music studio. It was there, she said, when she was around 12 or 13 that late one Saturday evening he took advantage of her, molesting her on a couch in the music studio.

Left "numb" and unable to speak, she said that Cooper drove her home after the alleged incident and told her, "I'm sorry, I hope we can still be friends."

Afterward, she said she stopped going to synagogue regularly and did her best to avoid him.

"Over a decade later, this still haunts me," she told the court. "I should feel empowered but I feel gross. I really try not to think about it. It really knocks me off my feet."

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