Summary: The Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) recently admitted that key evidence in child abuse documentation at Miramonte Elementary School was destroyed. The destroyed documents were proof the school knew of convicted predator Mark Berndt’s abusive activities as they were happening, in an effort to obstruct justice for the child victims.
The LAUSD continues to remain embroiled in extensive lawsuits in the wake of the Mark Berndt scandal – the teacher sent to prison for 25 years for highly assaulting sexual crimes, including blindfolding his students and spoon-fed them cookies laced with his semen at Miramonte Elementary School (MES) in Los Angeles. You may remember that this is the same school that had a second teacher – Martin Springer who was accused of similar abuses, though the charges were later dropped because the accuser decided not to testify. Between Berndt and Springer, this is what led LAUSD superintendent John Deasy to smash a culture of silence within the school by replacing every faculty member at the school.
I’m curious to see what Deasy will do for an encore after a spokesperson for LAUSD stated that documents that may have held key evidence in child abuse cases within the district no longer exist. I’m more curious to see if the leadership at the school will need to “lawyer up” for overseeing a meticulous and methodical cover-up that protected child molesting teachers, and gravely endangered innocent children at the school. Yet, it might not be enough to keep the leadership out of hot water. Here are some of the facts behind the shredded documents:
- The shredded child abuse documentation allegedly dated as far back as 1988. Certainly, it’s speculative to say beyond a doubt that information detailing Berndt’s sexually abusive behavior was on any of them; however, note that the documents cover 24 years of his career. With an average of 1,500 students in the school at any given time, that’s exposure to almost 10,000 children during the timeframe of the documents. It’s uncertain, but I’m confident that at least a fraction of the documents had information that detailed Berndt’s abuses.
- The school’s excuse for destroying the documents? The district felt like it didn’t have a right to the reports, which is widely seen as a misinterpretation of the pertinent California penal code – one that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny when there was no mention that maintaining records was illegal. So…now the excuse has only fueled the thought that MES has something they’re hiding. But, if you believe Berndt’s lawyer, he’s not an evil person – just one that’s made mistakes.
- There is some good news though; Judge John Wiley Jr. ruled that a 512-page investigation into the Berndt case will now be available as evidence in further lawsuits and criminal charges – despite LAUSD’s attempt to keep it concealed. Now, the public will be able to see the disparity between the story LAUSD pushed out to the public and what they really knew.
- So far, LAUSD has paid out $40 million in settlements of 63 abuse cases between Berndt and Springer, with an additional 71 children involved in the current case against the district. But yet, think about all of the money MES might have saved LAUSD by shredding the documents. Considering Berndt had access to nearly 10,000 children during his career – even 1 percent of that total is 100 victims, which is more than in either case against the district.
What Berndt did to his victim was heinous – yet, the LAUSD did the same thing, but to taxpayers and those within the community. LAUSD and MES blindfolded the public, spoon-fed them BS, laced with obstructed justice, and got away with it for a long time. What these young (and now older) victims need is justice from the courts to allow these innocents to begin healing from the physical and emotional trauma that abuses cause. What these victims need is a community willing to demand accountability for the piss-poor ‘leaders’ in the district and the school that allowed those documents to be destroyed.
If your child, or a child you know is a victim of sexual abuse, contact your local police department and report it.