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Los Angeles district pays $27 million to pupils in lewd teacher case

Mark Berndt worked as a teacher for more than 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California. .

Story highlights

  • Los Angeles Unified School District pays out almost $27.3 million to 58 students
  • Nearly 200 students filed lawsuits claiming victimization by an elementary school teacher
  • A former teacher at Miramonte Elementary has pleaded not guilty to sexually lewd acts

The Los Angeles public school district has paid $27 million to settle 58 of 191 students' lawsuits alleging they were victims of sexually lewd acts by an elementary school teacher, a school spokesman said Tuesday.

Two other lawsuits in the Miramonte Elementary School case have been settled but are pending court approval, said Sean Rossall, spokesman for the office of General Counsel's office for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The almost $27.3 million in payments works out to approximately $470,000 per child, according to the district.

In March, David Holmquist, the district's general counsel, confirmed the settlements in 58 cases but declined to state the exact financial figure other than say the amount was in the "multimillions."

At that time, Holmquist described the agreements as "good settlements."

The students' claims were filed in the wake of charges against former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, 62, who pleaded not guilty last year to allegations he put young students in bondage and then photographed them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and 3-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces.

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Berndt is being held on $23 million bail and faces 23 felony counts of lewd acts on a child. The 23 alleged victims were between 7 and 10 years old, and all but two of them were girls, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has said.

Several of the plaintiffs' attorneys couldn't say for certain in March whether any of the 23 alleged victims in the criminal case are among the 58 civil settlements.

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