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Alex Brandon  /  AP
Mickey Rooney testified on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 2 about elder abuse.
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updated 3/2/2011 8:14:16 PM ET 2011-03-03T01:14:16

Actor Mickey Rooney told Congress on Wednesday that he was left powerless by a family member who took and misused his money.

"I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated," Rooney told a special Senate committee considering legislation to curb abuses of senior citizens. "But above all, when a man feels helpless, it's terrible."

The 90-year-old film and television star told lawmakers that elder abuse comes in various forms, including physical and emotional. In his case, he described the abuse as financial.

In his testimony, Rooney did not identify the family member he contends abused him. But he has obtained a restraining order from a judge in Los Angeles keeping his stepson, Chris Aber, away from him until an April 5 court hearing.

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Rooney has accused Aber in court filings of withholding food and medicine and meddling in his personal finances. Attempts by The Associated Press to find a working phone number for Aber have been unsuccessful.

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who chairs the Special Senate Committee on Aging, said the elderly are particularly vulnerable because they are "often fragile" and their abusers usually stand little chance of getting caught.

Rooney began his film career in the 1920s and has appeared in scores of feature films and TV shows, including the musicals "Babes in Arms" (1939) and "Strike Up the Band" (1940) and the Andy Hardy film series. He was nominated for an Academy Award four times, including a supporting actor nomination for his role in "The Black Stallion" (1979). He received an honorary Oscar in 1982.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Classic actor testifies on the hill about elder abuse

  1. Transcript of: Classic actor testifies on the hill about elder abuse

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney appeared before Congress on Wednesday and revealed the abuse he claims he suffered at the hands of his stepson. And it's drawing the attention to the 3.5 million cases of elder abuse in this country every year. NBC 's Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell spoke with Rooney exclusively following his testimony. Kelly , good morning to you.

    KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Good morning, Matt. And you use the word legend; and while that can get thrown around a lot, it surely applies to Mickey Rooney and his more than 80, 80 years making movies. Now, he was center stage here, and he came to DC to try to get help and raise awareness to fight elder abuse . A child superstar in the heyday of Hollywood movie -making. A teen idol stealing scenes with greats like Judy Garland .

    O'DONNELL: A veteran of more than 300 films, now playing himself on Capitol Hill .

    Mr. MICKEY ROONEY: My name is Mickey Rooney .

    O'DONNELL: Rooney revealed a very personal drama.

    Mr. ROONEY: I've been abused financially, medically. My wife and I have hungered for food at our house. And this has to stop.

    O'DONNELL: Last month a California court granted Rooney a protective order against his stepson of 32 years, Chris Aber , and Aber 's wife, Christina . What was your experience?

    Mr. ROONEY: It was horrible.

    O'DONNELL: Rooney claims that for 20 years family members have misused his money, forced him to work, and even left him without enough food at home. You were neglected?

    Mr. ROONEY: Oh, ho, you can say that with a capital N.

    O'DONNELL: Rooney testified Wednesday...

    Mr. ROONEY: I was told to 'shut up and be quiet, you don't know what you're talking about.' It seemed that no one, no one wanted to believe me.

    O'DONNELL: ...appearing before a Senate committee working to strengthen laws against elder abuse .

    Mr. ROONEY: My daily life became unbearable.

    O'DONNELL: Did you feel embarrassed?

    Mr. ROONEY: Yes. As a man. Our individuality was taken away from us. Our personal things, things that meant everything to us, were gone.

    O'DONNELL: Rooney claims personal treasures were taken. Awarded two special Oscars for work as a child actor and lifetime achievement, Rooney says his golden statue is gone.

    Mr. ROONEY: And he even sold my Oscar .

    O'DONNELL: A judge has also appointed someone to protect Rooney 's finances. In a written statement, the lawyer representing Rooney 's stepson said, "Allegations that Chris Aber threatens, intimidates, harasses, yells and screams at Mr. Rooney are false." And states that Rooney 's eighth wife, Jan , denies any abuse. Going public, Rooney hopes to help other seniors.

    Mr. ROONEY: You're not alone. And you have nothing, nothing, ladies and gentlemen, to be ashamed of.

    O'DONNELL: And something rare for a Senate hearing, but not for this showman: a round of applause.

    Mr. ROONEY: God bless you all, and God bless our country.

    O'DONNELL: And part of the reason senators wanted Rooney to come here, because as a movie legend and a World War II veteran, they hope that he will help seniors come forward. They think that more than 14 percent of elderly who live with family or on their own go through some kind of abuse. And Rooney hopes that his story can help them. And in our conversation he revealed a lot of pain, but also hope that his own situation will get better.

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