Rooney sues stepson, claims elder abuse

Sept. 15, 2011 at 9:22 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Mickey Rooney's lawyers say they have filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles accusing the screen icon's stepson of financially and verbally abusing him.

Attorneys from the law firm of Holland & Knight announced Thursday they have brought a petition against Christopher Aber and his wife, Christina, in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleges the Abers took control of the 90-year-old actor's finances and withheld proper medicine and food from him throughout a 10-year period, "leaving the famed entertainer powerless over his assets and personal life."

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reva Goetz granted court protection to Rooney in February, appointing attorney Michael R. Augustine as his conservator.

Attorneys Bruce S. Ross and Vivian L. Thoreen of Holland & Knight, who represent Rooney and Augustine, have accused the Abers of breach of fiduciary duty and fraud stemming from the alleged elder abuse, along with misappropriation of Rooney's name and likeness.

"Clearly, fame does not insulate an individual from the trauma and neglect of elder abuse, as Mickey Rooney's case vividly demonstrates," Ross said in a statement. "Mickey was exploited by a close relative in whom he placed his trust and looked to for guidance. If a person of Mickey Rooney's stature and profile can be victimized, there are untold numbers of less fortunate seniors who are similarly being abused in this country."

Rooney's personal experiences prompted him to testify before the Senate Special Committee on Aging this year.

"Over the course of time, my daily life became unbearable," Rooney said. "Worse, it seemed to happen out of nowhere. At first, it was something small, something I could control. But then it became something sinister that was completely out of control. I felt trapped, scared, used, and frustrated. But above all, I felt helpless. For years, I suffered silently. I couldn't muster the courage to seek the help I knew I needed. Even when I tried to speak up, I was told to be quiet. It seemed like no one believed me."

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