Lawyer Accuses LAUSD of Double-Dipping Taxpayer Money - NBC Southern California

Complete coverage of the sexual abuse scandal at a South Los Angeles elementary school

Lawyer Accuses LAUSD of Double-Dipping Taxpayer Money



    Lawyer Accuses LAUSD of Double-Dipping Taxpayer Money
    Miramonte Elementary School

    During a motions hearing at the Central Civil West Courthouse in Los Angeles, an attorney representing eight of the dozens of victims of the Miramonte child sex abuses cases made a claim the LA Unified School District was double-dipping taxpayer money.

    Luis Carillo asked Judge John Wiley to remove LAUSD attorney Sean Andrade on the grounds that he represents no one involved with the cases.

    "His clients have been dismissed," Carillo told the judge, referring to LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and former Miramonte School Principal Martin Sandoval, once named as defendants in the child abuse cases.

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    Andrade represented them for LAUSD until the judge confirmed the dismissals from the case in early April. Andrade stood to answer the allegation claiming he was "representing the District to the fullest extent" until the dismissals were confirmed.

    Wiley ruled Monday that he had already done so previously but added that he was being redundant in saying "the dismissals are all effective as of this date."

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    Wiley then asked if Andrade wished to stay as a member of the public but remain in his counsel chair and he said yes.

    What NBC4 has not been able to determine is whether in fact the attorney was being paid by the District for his presence Monday, even after the judge's confirmation that his part of the case was non-existent.

    Sean Rossall of Cerrell Associates, which was hired by the attorneys representing LAUSD to handle all Miramonte media requests, said the district is concerned about the interests of its students and is trying to make the litigation process as efficient as possible.

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    "This is an important case for the District," Rossall said in a prepared statement. "Our goal, therefore, is to present the best possible defense for the District and any individuals involved. Consistent with that goal, we will not take unnecessary risks, but are pleased that the Court today dismissed all of the remaining cases against Dr. Deasy, and former principals Martin Sandoval, and Richard Lopez. We continue to be concerned about the best interests of the students, and will continue to pursue opportunities to streamline the litigation process, avoid lengthy trials and act to protect students health and well-being. This includes a continued willingness to settle these cases informally without the need for the potential pain of litigation."

    Andrade did not return for the afternoon session. Meanwhile, Wiley made a tentative ruling Monday that could clear the way for plaintiffs in the case to prove their claim that LAUSD knew about sexual misconduct allegations against teacher Mark Berndt decades before the 2009 "cookie incident."

    In a 500-plus page investigation, the LA County Sheriff's Department has listed potential victims and witnesses that reportedly go back to 1988.

    Attorneys for the plaintiffs want access to witness statements and contact information to build their case but the LASD sent its own attorney to argue privacy issues in their release.

    Judge Wiley has requested that the full document, unredacted, including some 600 photos be submitted to his office by Thursday, at which time he would make a ruling on whether the information would be made available to all parties involved.

    LAUSD's chief attorney on the child abuse cases, Thomas Delaney, argued in open court that the District is not opposed to the release of some of the information on the grounds the District could reach out to the witnesses in advance.

    This lead to a string of emotional objections by various plaintiffs' attorneys (all eight present for the hearing) including John Manly who represents some 30 victims of the Miramonte case. Manly objected on the grounds that he had already taken the deposition of one former Miramonte teacher who claimed the District had reached out to her through a third-party attorney suggesting she refuse to comment.

    LAUSD Attorney Sean Andrade, now considered a "public spectator" at this point, told the judge that issue was misrepresented by Manly at which point attorney Luis Carillo insisted the deposition, under oath, does indeed make that claim. Both the District and the plaintiffs have agreed that names of victims and potential victims should not be released with the document

    Wiley has requested all information be submitted to him by April 24 so he can make a ruling early next week. He will also decide if some 640 photos obtain by sheriff investigators can be released to attorneys to help identify current and/or additional victims. The first civil trial for the Miramonte sex abuse cases is set to begin July 8.

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