UPDATED, 4:08 PM: More than two months after Jeffrey Cooper was found guilty of three counts of child molestation by a Los Angeles jury, the theater architect and longtime Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member was sentenced today.
An AMPAS member since 2002, the 70-year-old Cooper received an eight-year stint in state prison during the hearing in a Van Nuys courtroom. He also will be formally registered as a sex offender. Almost simultaneously, two accusers of Cooper’s hit him with a civil lawsuit for “personal injuries and damages arising out of childhood sexual abuse.”
Accused of sexual assaulting two female minors, Cooper first was arrested in 2018 by L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies. While finding guilty in May of three felony counts of lewd acts, the jury remained deadlocked on the case of a second girl. Present in a blue jail jumpsuit at today’s L.A. Superior Court hearing, Cooper has been in custody since May 20, when the verdict came down.
“Children are the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón in a statement after Monday’s sentencing hearing. “Mr. Cooper abused his position of trust and caused incredible harm to helpless victims. I know that nothing can undo the trauma that they have endured, but I hope the victims find peace and healing now that this criminal process is complete.”
Still an AMPAS member, Cooper’s status with the Oscar organization is up for review soon, sources tell me. The verdict against Cooper stands as a clear violation of Academy standards of conduct, and the group’s board will meet early next month, with a final decision on Cooper as the first order of business.
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AMPAS did not respond to request for comment on Cooper’s sentencing today.
PREVIOUSLY, MAY 22 AM: Jeff Cooper, an architect known for his movie theater and studio designs for such names as George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, has been found guilty of three counts of child molestation.
A jury rendered the verdicts Friday after a two-week trIal at Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys. The decisions come four years after Cooper’s arrest and grand jury indictments on eight counts involving two children.
On Friday, his trial jury convicted him on three felony charges of a lewd act on a child involving one of his accusers. But the jury could not reach a verdict on the five counts involving his other accuser. Judge Alan Schneider declared a mistrial on those charges.
Cooper’s work as an architect includes designing an Academy of Television Arts and Sciences theater, as well as more than two dozen mixing studios that produced Academy Award nominees, according to his business website.
Sentencing has been set for June 1, with Cooper facing up to 12 years in prison. He is being held without bail after the judge called him a flight risk. Cooper has been free on a $5 million bond.
Los Angeles County Special Victims Bureau detectives arrested Cooper in June 2018. The 66-year-old architect was charged with multiple counts of child molestation, according to court records. The acts were alleged to have occurred between November 2006 and November 2007 on one victim, and between January 2012 and July 2016 on the second. The two accusers are now 16 and 28 years old.
Deadline reached out to Cooper’s attorney, Alan Jackson, but he did not respond immediately.
“Obviously the families are disappointed that the jury didn’t convict as to one victim, but they are very pleased to see the jury at least convicted as to the second victim,” said Dave Ring, an attorney for the two accusers and their families, talking to the Los Angeles Times. “It was incredibly satisfying for them to see Cooper immediately remanded to prison for what he did. They’ve been put through nothing short of hell during the last four years of criminal proceedings.”
Cooper became a member of the film academy in 2002.
“The Academy has been made aware of the alleged abhorrent behavior and will address this matter according to our Standards of Conduct and the due process requirements under California nonprofit corporation law. We would have grounds, under our rules, to expel any member convicted of a violent crime,” the organization said in a statement before his trial.
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