Jury selection, settlement hearing to begin in Miramonte civil trial
LA School Report | November 17, 2014
Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in the civil case stemming from the sex abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School by former teacher Mark Berndt.
Also set for today is a settlement hearing, which was scheduled by the judge in an effort to settle the case before it goes to trial.
Assuming no settlement arises out of today’s hearing, opening statements at trial are expected in early December.
Berndt plead no contest last year to 23 counts of lewd conduct on a child between 2005 and 2010 in a case that made nationwide headlines. Berndt is currently serving a 25-year sentence in prison for crimes that included feeding students cookies containing his bodily fluids.
LA Unified has already settled 65 claims for about $30 million in civil cases related to Berndt, and there are dozens of other plaintiffs waiting to go to trial. The case heading into jury selection today involves 16 former Miramonte students and 27 parents who plan to argue that the district knew Berndt was a danger to students but kept him in the classroom, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The district had asked for a gag order which would prevent any attorneys involved from talking publicly about trial details, but the Superior Court judge in charge of the case dismissed the motion on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.