Attorney tries to push Miramonte sexual-abuse case to federal level
FBI Crimes Against Children Unit examines
An attorney representing the families of nearly a dozen children who were allegedly sexually abused by a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School said today he was pushing for a federal investigation into the alleged activities at the school and throughout the LAUSD.
Attorney Brian Claypool said he sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that the federal government conduct an investigation into the activities at Miramonte and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s handling of the case and other reports of child abuse.
Clayoiik said he was subsequently contacted by the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Unit, which indicated it was interested in learning more about the Miramonte situation.
Former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt, 61, of Torrance, has been charged with 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. Prosecutors contend he took photos of children who were unknowingly being spoon-fed bodily fluids or eating semen-tainted cookies.
Claypool has already sued the LAUSD on behalf of 11 Miramonte children and their families.
Los Angeles School Police Department Chief Steven Zipperman said he was unaware of any federal investigation, but said the district was willing to cooperate.
“The health and welfare of the entire Los Angeles Unified School District family is our foremost motivation,” he said. “The district has willingly and actively participated in all investigations. Although we are unaware of any federal investigation at this time, we are committed to cooperating and working with any investigative body that can help the district in its ongoing efforts to ensure we provide the safest learning and working environment for our community.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement noting that the FBI had consulted with local investigators looking into alleged crimes at Miramonte, but so far, the case is being handled solely by the sheriff department and the district attorney’s office.
The department noted that it coordinates with the FBI task force focused on crimes against children, and “both agencies routinely assist one another with resources and expertise unique to their respective jurisdictions.”
“In this case, the FBI did provide forensic assistance to sheriff’s detectives leading the investigation, and stands ready to assist if requested,” according to the sheriff’s department.
Claypool said he believes a federal investigation is needed to broaden the scope of the probe of the district and Berndt, who taught for about 30 years at Miramonte. He also said the FBI could better assess possible victims at hundreds of other LAUSD schools.
LOS ANGELES, calif.—The Los Angeles Unified School District announced today it has settled 58 legal claims alleging sexual abuse of students at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles.
The district described the settlements as a multimillion-dollar deal, but declined to provide an exact figure until the amounts were approved in court.
NBC4 reported that the settlements ranged from about $400,000 to $500,000 for each plaintiff.
Another negligence lawsuit has been filed against Los Angeles Unified School District in which additional former Miramonte Elementary School students allege they were victims of lewd acts by a teacher fired in January.
Parents of about a dozen ex-Miramonte pupils brought the suit on behalf of themselves and their children in Los Angeles Superior Court. The complaint also alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and names all seven members of the LAUSD Board of Education, as well as Superintendent John Deasy.
A female teacher is now being implicated in the sexual misconduct investigation that surfaced at Miramonte Elementary School last week.
The school made headlines when two male teachers, Mark Berndt and Martin Springer, were arrested; one for allegedly feeding students his semen and the other for fondling students in his second-grade class.
The recent revelations of alleged long-term sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct by Los Angeles Unified School District personnel involving students has shocked the city, state and nation.
But even more devastating, it has shocked parents and made many ask the question: “How can I keep my child safe at school?”
Veteran licensed clinical psychologist Steve Ambrose recommends that parents have a conversation with their child about how it went at school.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A two-day closure went into effect at Miramonte Elementary School today to enable the Los Angeles Unified School District to replace the entire staff following the arrests of two teachers on allegations of lewd acts and sexual crimes against students.