Lawyers Urge Feds to Investigate LAUSD in Miramonte Abuse Cases - NBC Southern California

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

Lawyers Urge Feds to Investigate LAUSD in Miramonte Abuse Cases



    Victims Demand Answers After LAUSD Sex Abuse Records Admission

    Attorneys for victims of the Miramonte sex scandal are calling for a federal investigation amid revelations that the LAUSD destroyed documents detailing at least 2,000 cases of sexual abuse in Los Angeles public schools. John Cádiz Klemack reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 2, 2014. (Published Friday, May 2, 2014)

    Hiding her identity for the sake of her victimized daughter, a mother of an alleged victim in the Miramonte sex abuse case says she holds responsible whoever destroyed district documents of child abuse records at LAUSD - the same way she does former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt.

    "They should be in jail," she says.

    Brian Claypool, an attorney for alleged sex abuse victims, said "this community should be outraged."

    LAUSD Allegedly Shredded Miramonte Scandal Documents

    [LA] District Allegedly Shredded Miramonte Scandal Documents
    The one-time chief risk officer for LAUSD spoke exclusively to NBC4 about apparent efforts by the school district to hide witness accounts of the Miramonte sex scandal. John Cádiz Klemack reports from downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, 2014.
    (Published Thursday, April 24, 2014)

    Following an NBC4 report last week about thousands of pages of child abuse allegations the district collected over a 20-year period was destroyed in 2008, attorneys for Miramonte plaintiffs say the feds need to step in to investigate.

    "Is this not enough to get the federal government involved and to clean house on these folks?" Claypool said.

    LAUSD Must Hand Over Miramonte Evidence: Judge

    [LA] LAUSD Must Hand Over Miramonte Evidence: Judge
    A judge has given Los Angeles Unified School District attorneys 24 hours to produce photos they believe to be privileged evidence in the Miramonte child abuse case. During a sworn deposition last week with former chief risk manager for the district, statements made revealed what plaintiffs claim was a malicious attempt to keep evidence out of the case. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday, May 1, 2014.
    (Published Friday, May 2, 2014)

    A spokesman for the district said he stands by his assertion that the documents were duplicates of existing files, and that they should not have had them in the first place.

    “When the school district reviewed the law regulating possession and disclosure of these records, it realized it erred by collecting these highly confidential law enforcement documents and made sure to bring its policies in line with the statute," said Sean Rossall, a spokesman for LAUSD’s General Counsel's Office.

    "The district's legal position appears to stink on ice,” said Royal Oakes, NBC4’s legal analyst. "The law does not let them just destroy things that could be relevant to criminal investigations,” Oakes said. ”They seem to think they can't possess it, the fact is they were only banned from disclosing it."

    Rossall initially said the district did reach out to county law enforcement before the documents were destroyed. NBC4 called the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which denied advising the district.

    The LA County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement: “The prosecution who handled the Miramonte case never authorized or gave instructions to destroy the documents, no further comments.”

    Shortly after we received these statements, Rossall revised his written statement and removed the line about reaching out to the county, saying he'd been mistaken.

    When we asked whether the district ever reviewed the documents while they had them, he called it a moot point.

    “This information is duplicative of the information that the school district already had to investigate these teachers" Rossall said.

    Attorneys for the plaintiffs say if the district had this information and then destroyed it, they may have given alleged abusers a free pass to keep teaching.

    "The fact that there are at least 2,000 and possibly upwards of 6,000 child abuse reports that were destroyed by LAUSD suggests that there are many child predators that are still roaming schools at LAUSD unabated,” Claypool said.

    Former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt pleaded no contest in November to 23 counts of lewd conduct involving his students and received a sentence of 25 years. Prosecutors said Berndt, 63, spoon-fed his semen to blind-folded students as part of what he is said to have called a tasting game.

    But recently released court documents include a host of additional allegations, including more than 100 possible victims, including some children who claim Berndt molested them.

    Berndt's attorney, Manny Medrano, has repeatedly denied that his client ever physically abused any student.

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