The Los Angeles Unified School District will pay $139 million to end all remaining litigation involving an elementary school teacher convicted of committing numerous counts of lewd conduct against his students, according to the settlement announced Friday.
The deal involving 82 students puts a legal end to the saga that began when Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was arrested in 2012 and accused of blindfolding students and feeding them his semen on cookies.
Plaintiff’s lawyers had planned to present evidence suggesting the school district was aware of sexual misconduct by Berndt three decades ago but failed to act until a photo processor at a pharmacy contacted police about film Berndt dropped off that showed pictures of blindfolded children and being fed some substance.
The case led to an overhaul of how the nation’s second-largest school district handles allegations of sexual abuse. After Berndt’s arrest, the district removed all 130 staff members from the school and placed them at an unopened empty campus during the lengthy investigation.