LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Attorneys for 20 alleged sexual abuse victims announced the filing of civil lawsuits Friday against a former Miramonte Elementary School teacher and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The claims were filed by 18 girls and two boys that were either students of Mark Berndt’s or participants of Miramonte Elementary after-school program who were taken to his class.
Attorneys allege all 20 plaintiffs were allegedly abused by Berndt; six of the accusers are also a part of an ongoing criminal complaint against him.
Berndt pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd acts on a child after hundreds of photos surfaced of his students blindfolded and allegedly being fed bodily fluids on cookies and crackers. Other photos showed the children with cockroaches on their bodies.
The photos were reportedly taken for Berndt’s sexual pleasure.
Attorneys also contend the LAUSD was negligent and overlooked complaints from parents and warning signs that he was abusive.
“Kids were traumatized because of the school district’s negligence. That’s the focus of today and to highlight the warning bells, the alarm signs that the school district fell asleep totally. They have to be responsible for this,” said attorney Luis Carillo.
Damages sought in the lawsuit are unknown.
CBS2 contacted the LAUSD for comment, but they declined.
Berndt is being held on $23 million bail.