Film Academy member and sound mixing studio architect Jeffrey Cooper has been found guilty of three counts of child molestation, the Los Angeles Times reports. While Cooper was indicted on eight counts of sexual abuse, judge Alan Schneider declared a mistrial on the remaining five, after a grand jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Cooper’s criminal trial began May 9 in Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys, following his arrest by LA Special Victims Unit detectives in June 2018. The 70-year-old pleaded not guilty to all eight charges, which allegedly involved him committing lewd acts with two underage girls, with the first offense dating from 2006 and 2007 and the second between 2012 and 2016.
He will await sentencing June 1, where he faces up to 12 years in prison.
Schenider, stating that Cooper was a flight risk, ordered him in jail without bail. Cooper was previously free on a $5 million bond, which was reduced from $9 million after his arrest.
On the first day of the trial, one accuser — now 28 — recalled how she had considered Cooper a “friend” and “mentor” who shared her interests before he molested her when she was 12 or 13 in 2006. The grand jury convicted Cooper on all charges related to this survivor.
“Over a decade later, this still haunts me,” she testified. “I should feel empowered but I feel gross. I really try not to think about it. It really knocks me off my feet.”
Cooper, who has been an Academy member since 2002, previously had a reputation as a top movie theater and sound studio designer in Hollywood, constructing the 600-seat theater for the headquarters of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences — which organizes the Emmys — according to his Calabasas-based architectural firm website. He also designed postproduction sound recording and mixing studios for several of Hollywood’s top studios, including Warner Bros., Universal and Lucasfilm.
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“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,” the organization said in a statement given to the Times. “We would have grounds, under our rules, to expel any member convicted of a violent crime.”
In the past, the Academy has expelled several high-profile members accused of sexual abuse in the wake of the #MeToo movement, with convicted producer Harvey Weinstein thrown out in 2017 followed by disgraced filmmaker Roman Polanski and comic Bill Cosby a year later.