It’s an elementary school sex scandal that shocked Southern California and the nation.
A veteran teacher at Miramonte Elementary in South Los Angeles was arrested and charged with committing lewd acts with children.
Among those acts — tricking the youngsters into eating cookies covered with his bodily fluid.
Mark Berndt says he’s innocent.
Regardless, the Los Angeles Unified School District was slammed with nearly 200 claims and lawsuits involving 129 school children as alleged victims.
Now — more than one year after the scandal broke — officials at LAUSD are announcing a multi-million dollar settlement that will cover about half of the children involved in the case.
“We’re very pleased with the settlement,” says David Holmquist, LAUSD General Counsel.
He says it achieves the district’s goals to “try to restore healing to the community” and “to provide for both the health and educational needs of the students who were impacted by what happened at Miramonte.”
Attorney Luis Carrillo is not part of the settlement. He represents 23 children and 14 parents.
“That amount is insufficient. It’s not sufficient for the long-term mental health care treatment of the children we represent who are suffering from PTSD, depression, eating disorders, nightmares and things of that nature,” he says.
Frank Perez represents eight children. He agreed to the settlement, saying this way, the alleged victims avoid the grueling process of litigation, of testifying in court, and so forth.
“It’s not so much a matter of being pleased with it or not. It’s a matter of taking the totality of the circumstances and trying to do what’s right for the child,” Perez says.
“This is a reasonable result that for better or for worse, fairly monetizes the damages that these kids suffered,” he added.
Holmquist says he hopes eventually to settle with all attorneys, clients and parents involved in this case.
–Chris Wolfe, KTLA News