A civil suit brought on behalf of two girls who allege they were sexually abused by a former Hollywood studio architect known for his designs of movie theaters and sound studios can move forward with only one cause of action needing to be shored up, a judge has ruled.
The suit also names as defendants both Jeffrey Cooper and the Calabasas Shul, which Cooper helped found in 1994.
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Huey P. Cotton on Thursday ruled that the cause of action against the 70-year-old Cooper for sexual abuse of a minor needs more details for it to remain part of the case. The judge gave the plaintiffs 30 days to file an amended complaint.
Cotton declined to dismiss a negligence allegation, saying Cooper is not named in that cause of action. The judge also denied a second motion by Cooper’s attorney to strike portions of the lawsuit, including the part stating that Cooper was an architect and acoustic engineer who was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and also designed movie theaters and sound studios as well as home studios for Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
“That Cooper is a successful professional is relevant to the infliction of emotional distress claim and also provides a possible motive for the Shul covering up the abuse,” the judge wrote.
However, the judge did strike as inflammatory the lawsuit’s language stating that during the criminal case, Cooper “took a scorched earth approach with his defense, utilizing his vast money and resources to make the lives of plaintiffs and their families as difficult and uncomfortable as possible.”
The defense motion did not challenge the suit’s other causes of action against Cooper for intentional infliction of emotional distress and sexual assault and battery.
The lawsuit was filed July 25, the same day Cooper was sentenced to eight years in state prison stemming from his conviction for lewd acts with a minor. Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Alan Schneider also ordered Cooper to register as a sex offender.
Cooper was convicted in May of three felony counts of lewd acts on a child involving the girl, who was between 12 and 13 at the time between 2005 and 2007 at his home and later reported what had happened to authorities, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Jurors deadlocked on charges against Cooper that involved a second girl who was 6 years old when Cooper allegedly began grooming her.
Cooper, who testified in his own defense, denied the allegations and said there were multiple adults around at all times, including parents and, in the case of one of the girls, her grandparents, who were longtime friends of the Coopers.
Cooper was initially arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in June 2018. He was subsequently taken into custody again after the jury’s verdict May 20.
The case stemmed from an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.