Hollywood Legend Mickey Rooney Alleges Elder Abuse Against Stepson

Actor Mickey Rooney is suing his stepson and others, alleging California elder abuse, including financial and verbal abuse. Specifically, the actor alleges that his abusers defrauded him out of millions of dollars, tricked him into believing that he was running out of money, and bullied him into continuing to work.

According to articles in The Washington Times and PRNewswire, the 90-year-old actor has accused his stepson, Christopher Aber, Aber’s wife, and others of breach of fiduciary trust, elder abuse, fraud, and misappropriation of the actor’s name and likeness. In recent years, the actor needed the assistance of others to help him manage his personal and business affairs. Over the past decade, however, the elderly actor claims that he essentially lost all control over his personal life and finances due to abuse and fraud.

The complaint alleges that the actor’s stepson “instilled fear in [the actor] and kept him in poverty,” taking advantage of “unfettered access” to the actor’s income. Additionally, the elderly actor’s stepson allegedly took advances on his salary, rerouted all of the actor’s mail and took control of his income—including Social Security checks—opened credit and debit cards in the actor’s name without the actor’s knowledge or consent, and used the actor’s money as if it were his own.

The actor—who has appeared in hundreds of films, television shows, and theater productions and was nominated for an Oscar four times—continued to perform and make appearances in recent years, even after undergoing double-bypass heart surgery in 2000. The lawsuit also alleges that the actor’s abusers regularly withheld food and medication, which lead to bouts of depression for the actor. They apparently bullied the actor and used various scare tactics to force him to continue working. His abusers allegedly told him that he would lose his house and his medical benefits if he did not continue to earn an income. The alleged abuse caused the actor great financial damage and emotional distress.

Earlier this year, the actor testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. He described the turmoil that elder abuse wreaked on his life: “. . . I felt helpless. For years I suffered silently. . . . Even when I tried to speak up, I was told to be quiet. It seemed like no one believed me.”
The elderly actor’s experience sheds light on an aspect of elder abuse that is much less obvious that other well-known signs and symptoms of abuse such as bed sores, bruises, or cuts. Our San Diego nursing home abuse attorney knows that emotional and verbal abuse is all too common. Emotional and verbal abuse can include threats, intimidation, or humiliation. In the actor’s case, his abusers purportedly humiliated him both in public and private and frequently lied to him in order to exercise control over his personal and business affairs.

Unfortunately, the Hollywood legend is not alone. The California elder abuse lawyers at the Walton Firm realize that elder abuse frequently goes unreported. We understand how difficult it can be for elders to speak out when they are being abused or neglected. In many cases, it is often the persons who are responsible for caring for our loved ones that ultimately commit elder abuse, whether the abuse occurs in negligent nursing homes or is perpetrated by an abusive caretaker. If you are worried that an elderly loved one is being abused, please consider consulting a legal professional who can help give voice to your concerns and protect your rights.

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