WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Parents and neighbors reacted Tuesday to allegations that a former University of California, Los Angeles employee engaged in inappropriate behavior with children on the Internet.
A website called “Operation Riptide” claims Michael Sondheimer, the ex-associate athletic director at UCLA, attempted to engage children in sexual chats involving humiliation and degradation in a sting where adults posed as minors.
Sondheimer resigned from his job last Thursday amid the accusations.
In a statement, a university spokesperson said, “Sondheimer was placed on administrative leave June 3, immediately after the university learned of allegations that he had engaged in inappropriate conduct. The allegations were unrelated to his job at UCLA and did not involve students or any other employees.”
Sondheimer’s neighbors in West Los Angeles were shocked to learn about the situation.
“That’s very disturbing. No doubt. What else can you say about it? It’s a sad thing,” said Rob Silverman.
High school student Carly Cooper, who was visiting UCLA with her family, said safety is a key issue when applying for colleges.
“Going to college, I’m going to be all by myself, and I want to have people that are going to be safe around me. Knowing I’m not going to get hurt,” she said.
Cooper’s mother, Polly, said undercover stings like “Operation Riptide” are important in helping to protect young adults.
“Children get access to everything at an early age with their phone and Internet access. So it’s very, very important to teach your children to watch what they’re doing on the Internet,” she said.
No charges have been filed thus far against Sondheimer.
The investigation is ongoing.