Attorney: L.A. schools pay 'largest' public settlement for child abuse at $139 million
By Michael Martinez, CNN
Fri November 21, 2014
Los Angeles (CNN) -- The Los Angeles public school district will pay more than $139.2 million to the families of 81 children allegedly abused by an elementary teacher now serving a prison sentence for lewd conduct, officials said Friday.
John Manly, one of the plaintiffs' attorney, called the amount "the largest settlement in the history of the United States against a public entity involving child abuse."
The settlement comes after the district earlier paid $30 million to settle 63 other students' claims alleging they were victims of sexually lewd acts by Mark Berndt of Miramonte Elementary.
A teacher for 30 years, Berndt is now serving a 25-year prison sentence for putting pupils in bondage, and then photographing them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and 3-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces....
Manly contended there were "two perpetrators:" Berndt and "those in successive (school) administrations from 1983 to the present who ignored and in some instances actively concealed what he was doing."....
Berndt had pleaded no contest to felony lewd acts on 23 children. The scandal led to more than 100 students suing the district, claiming that they, too, were victims....