WESTLAKE (CBSLA.com) — A judge Tuesday refused to throw out dozens of lawsuits filed by alleged victims' parents in the Miramonte sex abuse scandal against the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Attorneys for LAUSD asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuits, but the judge sided with a group of attorneys representing 61 children and 73 parents and accused the district of concealing information about former Miramonte Elementary School third-grade teacher Mark Berndt.
Berndt was arrested in January 2012 and criminally charged with molesting 23 students over a five-year period. He is still awaiting trial.
"The LAUSD robbed parents of an opportunity to remove their children from a dangerous condition," said Brian Claypool, the plaintiffs' attorney.
"They were kept totally in the dark," said attorney Luis Carrillo. "The parents were never even notified that sheriff's investigators talked to their children. This is concealment on the part of the district."
LAUSD admitted they didn't tell parents about the situation right away, but said they removed Berndt as soon as the allegations were made.
"Mr. Berndt was removed from the classroom as soon as we learned about it, while law enforcement conducted their investigation," said Sean Rossall, a spokesman for the LAUSD attorneys. "There was no concealment here."
Also on Tuesday, lawyers for the district's insurance companies told the judge they intend to fight the claims filed for Miramonte settlements already reached.
LAUSD has offered to pay $47 million to settle 98 of the 191 claims. If the insurance companies don't pay, the money will come from the school district, according to Rossall.
Attorneys for LAUSD confirm the Miramonte case has already cost the district $2.5 million.
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