LAUSD approves another $3.55M to settle sexual abuse claims at Miramonte school

City News Service
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
LAUSD approves $3.5M for sex-abuse claims at Miramonte school
The $3.55 million settlement of two sexual abuse claims is in addition to tens of millions paid previously for other victims at Miramonte.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Attorneys representing two additional victims of a former Miramonte Elementary School teacher convicted of sexually abusing children announced Tuesday that a collective $3.55 million settlement of both cases has been reached with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

A plaintiff identified only as Jane RE Doe settled for $1.85 million and John AE Doe settled for $1.7 million, the lawyers said.

In their separate Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuits, the plaintiffs alleged that former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt sexually harassed, abused and molested the victims on multiple occasions ranging from in or around 2004 through 2008.

Berndt pleaded no contest in 2013 to 23 charges of lewd conduct upon a child and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was accused in that case of feeding cookies laced with bodily fluids to children and of taking pictures of them, sometimes with tape over their eyes and mouths.

The newly settled lawsuits alleged that the Miramonte administration and LAUSD officials ignored multiple complaints by parents, students and teachers regarding Berndt's sexual misconduct with children dating back to the early 1980s.

In 2014, the LAUSD agreed to pay a record $140 million to 81 victims who were allegedly sexually abused by Berndt. The district also paid about $30 million in claims to the families of 65 Miramonte students.

"This settlement represents one more chapter in a horrendous scandal," plaintiffs' attorney Morgan Stewart said. "Ten years after the largest sexual abuse settlement against a public school district, it is a continuing reminder of the damage that results when school officials choose to ignore red flags and complaints by students and parents of a serial sexual predator. This remains a serious problem within LAUSD and will never be solved until these officials are held personally responsible.''