SOUTH PASADENA (CBSLA) — The mothers of 14 children at the center of the Miramonte Elementary School sex crimes scandal filed a civil lawsuit against Los Angeles Unified School District Tuesday.
Former teacher Mark Berndt was arrested on Jan. 30 after he allegedly took photos of blindfolded and gagged students with a roach on their faces or semen-tainted spoons or cookies held to their mouths.
The 61-year-old pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of committing a lewd act on a child between 2005 and 2011. The charges involve 23 children who were 7 to 10 years old.
Attorney Luis A. Carrillo alleges that the “LAUSD was negligent and did not protect their children from sexual abuses; and that the Los Angeles Unified School District completely ignored previous complaints against Mark Berndt that had been made by parents since the 1990-1991 school year.”
The LAUSD released a statement Tuesday in response to the suit.
“The safety and well-being of our students, staff and the entire Los Angeles Unified School District community is our paramount priority. The District is committed to working with the Miramonte community and everyone impacted by these incidents to improve trust and promote healing. While the District has yet to receive the latest complaint, we are continuing our efforts to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe learning and working environment for our students and staff,” LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist said.
“As we gear up for the new school year, we look forward to continuing the healing process as we welcome back the teachers and staff, who were displaced during last year’s investigation into these incidents, to Miramonte and other campuses. We recognize how difficult the past year was on the entire Miramonte community, and are moving forward together,” he added.
A civil lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of 22 of the child victims.
Berndt will return to court on August 16.