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LAUSD Avoids Trial And Reaches $139M Settlement In Miramonte Sex Abuse Case

LOS ANGELES ( — The Los Angeles Unified School District Friday reached a settlement with 82 victims in the Miramonte Elementary School child sex abuse case.

The more than $139 million settlement resolves the remaining lawsuits in the case.

Former teacher Mark Berndt pleaded no contest to 23 counts of lewd acts on a child and is now serving more than 20 years in state prison.

Berndt, 62, took photos of students while they were bound and gagged in his classroom.

Some photos featured cockroaches being placed on students' faces, while others depicted them being spoon-fed a milky-white substance that tested positive for Berndt's DNA.

Authorities believe Berndt, who was arrested in January 2012, committed the crimes between 2005 and 2010.

The arrest and prosecution of the former teacher lead to flurry of other civil lawsuits against the LAUSD. The district had previously settled more than 60 claims for approximately $30 million.

Attorneys for the victims allege the LAUSD knew about past incidents of inappropriate behavior involving Berndt that occurred in the 1980s.

"There is nothing more important to us than the safety of the students we serve. Our goal from the outset of these appalling revelations has been to spare the Miramonte community the anguish of a protracted trial, while at the same time being mindful of the financial consequences stemming from settlements. Given these circumstances, we believe we struck a balance between those objectives," LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said in a statement.

An independent process has been established with the court that will allow the judge to review each of the claims and assign the appropriate individual amount.

The settlement will be discussed at a 1 p.m. news conference.


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