Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the first civil trial against Los Angeles Unified stemming from the sex abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School.
The civil suits stem from the child abuse scandal involving former teacher Mark Berndt. He previously pleaded no contest to 23 counts of lewd conduct on a child between 2005 and 2010 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Sheriff’s officials said the investigation of Berndt began when a film processor turned over more than 40 photographs of children in a classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered in tape. Some of the pictures showed Berndt with his arm around the children or with his hand over their mouths, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
A sheriff’s sergeant said some of the photographs “depicted girls with what appeared to be a blue plastic spoon, filled with an unknown clear/white liquid substance, up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance.” Some photos also showed children with a large roach on their faces, sheriff’s officials said.
Sheriff’s officials said detectives found a blue plastic spoon and an empty container in the trash in Berndt’s classroom. Both items tested positive for semen, and DNA testing matched it to Berndt, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
The district has settled more than 60 claims for about $30 million over the abuse.