By City News Service, from the Contra Costa Times, http://bit.ly/VFffsL
12/13/2012 05:18:32 PM PST :: A judge Friday lifted a hold on lawsuits filed by former Miramonte Elementary School students and their parents after lawyers for the plaintiffs complained the Los Angeles Unified School District was not making realistic offers to settle the cases.
The suits allege that negligence by the LAUSD allowed a teacher to engage in lewd conduct with their children.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Mackey, who is managing the cases, had placed a stay on the lawsuits on Aug. 27, originally expected to last until March 1, in the hope they could be resolved without a trial. One of the mediators was former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso.
The judge scheduled trial for Sept. 23.
The alleged abuses by Torrance resident Mark Berndt occurred from 2002 to 2011, and LAUSD officials knew as early as the 1990-91 school year that he was involved in sexual misconduct, according to the lawsuits.
Berndt, 61, is charged with 23 counts of committing a lewd act on a child from 2005 to 2011. The charges involve 23 children who were 7 to 10 years old. Prosecutors contend he took photos of children who were unknowingly being spoon-fed bodily fluids or eating semen-tainted cookies.