The Babes on Broadway star won a restraining order against Christopher Aber and his wife last month (Feb11) amid claims his stepson has been attempting to convince the actor to sign over control of his assets, leaving the 90 year old fearing for his safety.
Rooney’s experiences have prompted him to lead the charge against elderly abuse and he appeared before a Senate committee in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday (02Mar11), urging politicians to create new laws to protect the aged.
He told the committee he felt “scared, disappointed… and angry” when Aber took control of his affairs, accusing his stepson and his wife of abusing him emotionally and financially.
Rooney claims Aber took a number of his personal items – including the star’s treasured Academy Award, which he received in 1983 in recognition of his 50 years in the movie industry.
In an interview on America’s Today Show, the ageing actor admits he suffered in silence for years because he was embarrassed.
He says, “As a man (I was embarrassed to speak out); our individuality was taken away from us. Our personal things, things that meant everything to us were gone. And he even sold my Oscar…”
But when he finally did speak out against Aber, Rooney felt abandoned: “It seemed that no one wanted to believe me.”
Aber has denied all allegations of abuse. In a statement issued to the Today show, his representative says, “Allegations that Chris Aber threatens, intimidates, harasses, yells and screams at Mr. Rooney are false.”
Rooney’s calls to Congress appeared to be heard loud and clear – after the hearing, committee chairman Senator Herb Kohl introduced legislation that would create an Office of Elder Justice to help co-ordinate law enforcement response to chronic abuse of the aged.