A Los Angeles Superior Court Judges’ summary of an investigation on former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt has revealed even more shocking details than previously released. Berndt – who was sentenced in November to 25 years in prison – had sparked a storm of nationwide controversy after it was discovered that he abused students at Miramonte Elementary School. He pleaded no contest to 23 counts of lewd acts on 23 students between the ages of 7 and 10.
The Judge’s summary of the investigation – which will serve as evidence in the civil lawsuit filed by victims and families against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) – reveals a sordid list of abuse not previously disclosed, including Berndt’s touching of girls’ private parts, compelling children to touch his genitals, and exposing himself to students.
In addition to the shocking summary, an LAUSD spokesman confirmed that district had destroyed records of sexual abuse allegations in public schools dating back to 1988. The documents had been created by a child abuse prevention team called CARE- Child Abuse: Recognize and Eliminate. The Care program was terminated in 2002. This raises further questions regarding Berndt’s conduct and possible abuse of other children, as he taught in the district for more than 30 years. Advocates, legal experts, and community members agree that the full picture regarding abuse in LAUSD is missing.
Initially, lawyers representing LAUSD argued against the release of the summary, stating that it could taint the jury pool. Ultimately, however, the Judge ruled that secrecy was never the way American courts were meant to function and that these records should be made public. Victims and individuals named in the report will be allowed to keep their identities hidden.
LAUSD had paid approximately $30 million to settle more than 60 child abuse lawsuits and a current case pending involved an addition 70 victims. With trial scheduled to begin in early July, more records are expected to be unsealed.
At The Senators (Ret.) Firm, our California sexual abuse lawyers have been and remain involved in the Miramonte abuse case. We represent abuse victims and families throughout the state and fight tirelessly to obtain justice and just compensation on their behalf.