September 21, 2015
It has been a long and arduous journey for the parents and the children who were victims of child abuse committed by a former Miramonte Elementary School teacher. In late 2010, law enforcement began to investigate one of the school’s teachers, Mark Berndt, after they uncovered dozens of questionable photographs of children. Berndt was eventually released from his teaching duties (with pay) and two months later, law enforcement seized another 350 inappropriate photos at Berndt’s residence.
Over time a growing number of victims and their parents began to press charges against Berndt, and another teacher who was also accused of child abuse at the same school, Martin Springer. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was accused of being a major player in this intricate scandal, allegedly covering up the acts of both teachers.
As damning evidence continued to be produced which disproved the innocence of Berndt (including a love letter written to a fourth-grade student in 2009), the LAUSD finally broke in November 2014. The district paid a record-breaking $139 million in damages to more than 70 victims of child abuse who attended Miramonte Elementary School.
The Buck Doesn’t Stop There
This incredibly complex and intricate case has involved numerous parties and the number of victims – and the damages to be paid – only continue to increase. Just recently this case again made news headlines when the LAUSD Board of Education approved of an additional settlement of $4.5 million for the school’s child abuse victims.
What to Do If Your Child Discloses Abuse
Nothing is more unsettling to a parent or caregiver than to discover that a child has been abused. If your child says that they have been abused by someone, parents should first:
- Stay Calm: Your child is looking to you for cues as to how they should react to the situation. Stay calm, reassure your child, and comfort them. Remain open to talk about what happened to them, but do not force them to talk about it
- Believe Them: Thank the child for speaking to you, let them know that they are loved, and let them know that you trust that what they are telling you is true. Do not question them and be open to what they are saying
- Contact a Personal Injury Attorney: Child abuse claims are extremely emotional and demand that those who are responsible are held accountable. Your attorney will guide you in contacting the authorities and work towards keeping your child safe from further emotional trauma
The professional and sensitive attorneys at the Cifarelli Law Firm have committed ourselves to protecting those who cannot protect themselves. If you suspect that your child has been abused, contact us today to ensure that your child receives the protection and compensation he or she deserves for their injuries.
To schedule a free initial consultation with us today, we welcome your call at (949) 502-8600