November 23, 2014 Comments Off on Attorney: L.A. schools pay ‘largest’ public settlement for child abuse at $139 million
Attorney: L.A. schools pay ‘largest’ public settlement for child abuse at $139 million
By Michael Martinez, CNN
Fri November 21, 2014
Los Angeles (CNN) — The Los Angeles public school district will pay more than $139.2 million to the families of 81 children allegedly abused by an elementary teacher now serving a prison sentence for lewd conduct, officials said Friday.
John Manly, one of the plaintiffs’ attorney, called the amount “the largest settlement in the history of the United States against a public entity involving child abuse.”
The settlement comes after the district earlier paid $30 million to settle 63 other students’ claims alleging they were victims of sexually lewd acts by Mark Berndt of Miramonte Elementary.
A teacher for 30 years, Berndt is now serving a 25-year prison sentence for putting pupils in bondage, and then photographing them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and 3-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces….
Manly contended there were “two perpetrators:” Berndt and “those in successive (school) administrations from 1983 to the present who ignored and in some instances actively concealed what he was doing.”….
Berndt had pleaded no contest to felony lewd acts on 23 children. The scandal led to more than 100 students suing the district, claiming that they, too, were victims….
September 27, 2014 Comments Off on Miramonte: LA school district’s claim it shredded child abuse reports now in question
Miramonte: LA school district’s claim it shredded child abuse reports now in question
Karen Foshay September 25
Questions are being raised about the Los Angeles Unified School District’s claim earlier this year that it shredded 20 years’ worth of suspected child abuse reports in connection with the Miramonte abuse scandal.
In response to a judge’s questions, about 100 current and former members of L.A. Unified’s general counsel’s office said they had no knowledge of the records being destroyed, and district officials have not answered similar questions posed by KPCC.
In April, KPCC was the first to report that LAUSD officials said the suspected child abuse reports, or SCARs, were ordered destroyed in 2008 after the district’s general counsel concluded it was not legally allowed to hold on to them. The records dated back to 1988, according to a district spokesman.
L.A. Unified made its comments about the documents after attorneys representing dozens of children suing the district over the actions of former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt requested that the school district produce all of its suspected child abuse reports.
In November 2013, Berndt pleaded no contest to 23 counts of lewd acts upon a child and was sentenced to 25 years in state prison….
The Witch-Hunt Narrative, LAUSD Admits To Destroying Over Two Decades Of Child Abuse Records, The findings indicate that DID does not have a sociocultural (e.g. iatrogenic) origin
May 3, 2014 Comments Off on The Witch-Hunt Narrative, LAUSD Admits To Destroying Over Two Decades Of Child Abuse Records, The findings indicate that DID does not have a sociocultural (e.g. iatrogenic) origin
– Book review: A scholarly, engaging look at ‘witch-hunt’ narratives
– LAUSD Admits To Destroying Over Two Decades Of Child Abuse Records
– Court dismisses case against former Miramonte teacher
– Dissociative Identity Disorder and Fantasy Proneness: A Positron Emission Tomography Study of Authentic and Enacted Dissociative Identity States (findings indicate that DID does not have a sociocultural (e.g. iatrogenic) origin)
Book review: A scholarly, engaging look at ‘witch-hunt’ narratives April 27, 2014 By Anne Grant Special to the Journal
“THE WITCH-HUNT NARRATIVE: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children,” by Ross E. Cheit. Oxford University Press. 508 pages. $49.95.
Ross E. Cheit’s book begins with the 1983 charges against staff at the McMartin Preschool. The case stretched over seven years, but produced no convictions — only a widespread consensus that it had been a “witch-hunt” and had unfairly targeted the accused. That narrative prevailed until now.
In 1992, Cheit recovered his own memory of sexual abuse in adolescence, more than two decades earlier, at a summer camp. By then, he held a law degree and a professor’s chair at Brown University. He eventually won civil suits against the individual and the institution that had betrayed him.
Cheit found that a single storyline clung tenaciously even when medical evidence showed children had been harmed. In academia, courts and the media, those who should have looked further failed to challenge the popular myth that considers children suggestible, unreliable witnesses to their own abuse.
Recognizing that his personal experience could bias him, Cheit closely examined the original evidence and court records in three large childcare sex-abuse cases and dozens of smaller ones — identifying some instances of people falsely accused and many where guilt went unpunished. He recounts evidence with scholarly precision that is emotionally engaging and eminently readable….
LAUSD Admits To Destroying Over Two Decades Of Child Abuse Records
The L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) has admitted that it destroyed decades of alleged child abuse records.
This is linked to the investigation into former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt’s sexual abuse of children. John Manly, one of the victims’ eight lawyers, accused the District of destroying documents earlier this month in court.
L.A. Unified spokesman Sean Rossall told KPCC that the District did indeed destroy the records of sexual abuse cases at L.A. public schools in 2008, with files going back to 1988. There may be no way of knowing whether other reports of allegations against Berndt exist.
The question that Manly, and frankly, everyone, is asking is why LAUSD would destroy these records. Rossall said it was because the District felt like they should not have the reports. In 2008, the school district lawyers determined, based on a section of the penal code, that they shouldn’t have the documents, resulting in the destruction of all reports. However, the section they referenced is saying that they merely shouldn’t disclose the reports, not that they shouldn’t keep the reports.
….Berndt pleaded no contest to his charges and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in November 2013….
Court dismisses case against former Miramonte teacher
Rina Palta with KPCC staff February 5th, 2014
he criminal case against a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles who was charged with inappropriately touching a female student has been dismissed by the court after the prosecution’s key witness said she would not testify.
The case against Martin Springer involved only one alleged victim, who was 9 or 10 at the time the abuse occurred. Prosecutors considered testimony from the girl, now 12, to be essential to the case, and without it they decided they could not proceed, said Alison Meyers, an L.A. County deputy district attorney in the sex crimes division.
“She felt very traumatized by the process and as the days approached to the trial she had expressed to us that she felt coming to court would cause her further trauma,” Meyers said….
Case Dropped Against Second Miramonte Teacher Accused Of Sexual Abuse
….The trial for former third-grad teacher Martin Springer, 51, began this week, but was dismissed today when prosecutors were told by the victim’s family that the 12-year-old girl was too traumatized to testify in court, according to the Los Angeles Times and KTTV.
….The L.A. Unified District fired Springer (who had taught at the school for 26 years) from his job and took away his state teaching credential, the Times reported. They had paid a $470,000 settlement to six other children who claimed they were molested by Springer.
Dissociative Identity Disorder and Fantasy Proneness: A Positron Emission Tomography Study of Authentic and Enacted Dissociative Identity States
A. A. T. Simone Reinders PhD, Antoon T. M. Willemsen PhD
PET and SPECT in Psychiatry 2014, pp 411-431
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a disputed psychiatric disorder. Research findings and clinical observations suggest that DID involves an authentic mental disorder related to factors such as traumatisation and disrupted attachment. A competing view indicates that DID is due to fantasy proneness, suggestibility, suggestion and role-playing. Here, we investigate whether dissociative identity state-dependent psychobiological features in DID can be induced in high- or low-fantasy-prone individuals by instructed and motivated role-playing and suggestion. Differences in neural activation patterns were found between the DID patients and both high- and low-fantasy-prone controls. That is, the identity states in DID were not convincingly enacted by DID simulating controls. The findings indicate that DID does not have a sociocultural (e.g. iatrogenic) origin.
Sandusky Sex Abuse Report: Investigation Into Penn State University’s Role In Child Molestation Case To Be Published Thursday, 14 moms sue LA schools in child abuse case
July 12, 2012 Comments Off on Sandusky Sex Abuse Report: Investigation Into Penn State University’s Role In Child Molestation Case To Be Published Thursday, 14 moms sue LA schools in child abuse case
Sandusky Sex Abuse Report: Investigation Into Penn State University’s Role In Child Molestation Case To Be Published Thursday
Reuters By Ian Simpson 07/10/2012
WASHINGTON, July 10 (Reuters) – An investigation into Penn State University’s role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal will be published on Thursday, and the family of late football coach Joe Paterno has questioned its fairness and confidentiality.
The head of the eight-month probe, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, said on Tuesday its report would be published online at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) on Thursday. He will hold a news briefing at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) in Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania State University’s trustees hired Freeh and his law firm to investigate the school’s handling of explosive allegations involving Sandusky, a former assistant coach in the high-powered football program, and university officials.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted last month of 45 counts of child molestation involving 10 boys. Some of the sexual abuse took place at Penn State football facilities.
The charges involving Sandusky prompted the firing in November of university President Graham Spanier and head coach Paterno, who won more games than any other major college football coach. Paterno died of lung cancer in January at age 85.
At the heart of the Freeh probe is how Paterno and other Penn State officials reacted to allegations by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant. McQueary told them in 2001 he had seen Sandusky in a sexual position with a boy in a football locker room, but neither police nor children’s services were informed.
Former Athletic Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, a former university vice president, face charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse stemming from the alleged cover-up. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/sandusky-sex-abuse-report-penn-state_n_1663691.html
14 moms sue LA schools in child abuse case By Jonathan Lloyd, NBCLosAngeles.com 7/11/12
Attorneys representing 14 mothers of students at Miramonte Elementary School announced Tuesday the filing of a lawsuit that alleges the school district did not protect their children from a teacher accused of lewd acts involving children.
The lawsuit claims the Los Angeles Unified School District was negligent in the case of former teacher Mark Berndt, charged with lewd acts involving at least 20 children at the school.
Berndt was arrested in January.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday morning, claims the children were sexually abused by Berndt between 2002 and 2011, and that the LAUSD “was negligent and did not protect their children from sexual abuses; and that the Los Angeles Unified School District completely ignored previous complaints,” according to a statement from attorney Luis A. Carrillo.
The charges against Berndt involve 23 children who were 7 to 10 years old. His arrest stemmed from an investigation that began after a film processor — mandated by state law to report child abuse — provided photos to sheriff’s deputies….
Deputies recovered more than 100 similar photos at Berndt’s home, according to investigators. The film processor later discovered more photos….
Berndt pleaded not guilty.
His arrest was followed by another Miramonte Elementary teacher and the dismissal of the entire school staff. Martin Bernard Springer is charged with three felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14. http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/11/12684038-14-moms-sue-la-schools-in-child-abuse-case
February 12, 2012 Comments Off on Abusers Target Impoverished Schools – Miramonte Elementary School
Abusers Target Impoverished Schools Feb 10, 2012
LOS ANGELES – The charges are shocking, but the choice of victims comes as little surprise.
The horrors alleged at Miramonte Elementary School echo previous cases of sexual abuse: vulnerable children, plied with attention and gifts and groomed to trust adult predators.
The abuses claimed here may be different – children blindfolded, gagged and fed a substance investigators say was semen. But the setting follows a pattern alleged at Penn State University, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of using a charity he founded to target vulnerable boys from single-parent homes or troubled families, people unlikely to speak out.
At Miramonte, the victims could hardly have been more disadvantaged: The 1,400 students are virtually all from poor Latino homes….
A former teacher’s aide, Ricardo Guevara, is serving a 15-year sentence in state prison after being convicted in 2004 of sexually abusing three kindergarten girls at Miramonte. The Los Angeles school system was ordered to pay $1.6 million to his three victims’ families.
Beverly Hills lawyer Keith Davidson….now represents four children, three boys and one girl, ages 9 to 13, who were students of accused teacher Mark Berndt, the man at the center of the scandal.
Berndt, 61, who was removed from his third-grade class a year ago, was charged last month with 23 counts of committing lewd acts on children ages 6 to 10 from 2005 through 2010.
Investigators say they have found 600 photographs Berndt took of the children, many performing what he told them was a game….
While investigating claims against Berndt, the Los Angeles sheriff’s department brought charges against another Miramonte teacher. Martin Springer, 49, pleaded not guilty this week to charges he fondled a second-grade girl.
Springer taught at Miramonte for 26 years. Berndt taught there 32 years, a span that saw the neighborhood transform from a heavily African-American population to almost uniformly Latino.
Berndt had been the subject of complaints before. The sheriff’s department investigated a September 1993 incident at the school, but prosecutors decided they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for District Attorney Steve Cooley….
In a separate incident, school system officials said they fired a female teacher’s aide at the school in 2009, after a mother reported finding love letters the aide wrote to her 11-year-old son….
Ellen Greenwald, a University of Texas-Dallas psychologist, says kids who are victims of sex abuse often fear that going to adults will get them in more trouble and that no one will believe them, or that adults will blame them.
“That’s what really creates the silence that continues,” she says.
Lisa Aronson Fontes, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts who wrote Child Abuse and Culture: Working with Diverse Families, says, “There’s a culture of silence at most schools … and a culture of disbelief and denial.”
Miramonte teacher paid to drop charges, Gacy had accomplices – lawyers say, West Memphis 3 judge speaks, Healing from Trauma
February 11, 2012 Comments Off on Miramonte teacher paid to drop charges, Gacy had accomplices – lawyers say, West Memphis 3 judge speaks, Healing from Trauma
– Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge
– Serial killer John Wayne Gacy had accomplices, lawyers say
– West Memphis 3 judge speaks after 18 years
– Wellspring of Compassion- Self-Care for Sensitive People Healing from Trauma
Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge
LAUSD says it paid Mark Berndt to settle his challenge because it was blocked from investigating and defending its firing of the Miramonte Elementary teacher accused of sexually abusing students.
By Howard Blume, Angel Jennings and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
February 10, 2012
The Los Angeles Unified School District paid Mark Berndt, the teacher at the center of the Miramonte Elementary child abuse scandal, $40,000 to drop the challenge to his dismissal last year.
The payout consisted of four months of back salary plus reimbursement for the cost of health benefits. Berndt was fired by the Board of Education in February 2011 after officials learned that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was investigating him for alleged lewd acts against students. He was arrested last week.
The firing took Berndt off the district payroll. But he fought to keep his job through an appeal process that lasted until he settled with the school system and resigned in June.
The settlement with Berndt came in the face of a dilemma, said L.A. Unified general counsel David Holmquist. A hearing on the dismissal was pending and the district didn’t have evidence to justify the firing because the Sheriff’s Department investigation was ongoing….
Berndt was charged last week with 23 counts of lewd conduct against children; another teacher, Martin Springer, was charged this week with three counts of lewd conduct. Berndt is alleged to have taken photographs of blindfolded children being spoon-fed his semen. Springer is accused of fondling a girl in his class. The Berndt and Springer cases are believed to be unrelated. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-miramonte-20120210,0,91877.story
Serial killer John Wayne Gacy had accomplices, lawyers say
By James Eng, msnbc.com 2/10/12
Nearly two decades after Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy was executed for torturing, raping and murdering 33 men and boys in the 1970s, two lawyers say they’ve unearthed evidence that indicates he didn’t act alone in some of the slayings.
Criminal defense attorneys Robert Stephenson and Steven Becker, who are partners in a Chicago law practice, said they re-examined the circumstances surrounding the disappearances of some of the victims. Their conclusion: the so-called “Killer Clown” had at least three accomplices.
The Chicago Sun-Times and WGN-TV first reported on the lawyers’ claims on Thursday and Friday.
“There is significant evidence out there that suggests that not only did John Wayne Gacy not operate alone, he may not have been involved in some of the murders, and the fact that he was largely a copycat killer,” Stephenson told WGN….
The sheriff said investigators will follow up on the information and, if it proves solid, will try to locate the potential accomplices — two of whom are believed to be still alive. The case has had so many twists and loose ends – seven Gacy victims remain unidentified, for example – that Dart is keeping an open mind….
Gacy, a building contractor who performed as an amateur clown at fundraising events and children’s parties, was tried in Chicago in 1980 and convicted of 33 murders. He was executed in 1994
West Memphis 3 judge speaks after 18 years
Feb 10, 2012 By Janice Broach
MEMPHIS, TN – (WMC-TV) – For 18 years the West Memphis Three appealed their case and every time Judge David Burnett denied those appeals and he refused to speak about the case or the men. outside of the courtroom. “Frankly, everything I did was affirmed by the Arkansas Supreme Court,” Burnett said.
Wellspring of Compassion- Self-Care for Sensitive People Healing from Trauma by Sonia Connolly – Whether you are new to healing or an old hand, whether your trauma is long past or ongoing, this book offers validation, support, and tools for healing. With this guide, uncover your wellspring of compassion, understand your reactions to trauma, rebuild self-trust, and respond to your inner voices with kindness. Reconnect with your body and respect your internal NO and YES. Nourished by compassion, grow into a shape defined by your history and desires, like a tree becoming more intricately itself every year. Sundown Healing Arts ISBN: 9780983903802 2012
Sonia Connolly, LMT helps sensitive trauma survivors regain self-trust and peace through intuitive, compassionate bodywork in Portland, Oregon. Her writing about trauma is inspired by twelve years of client sessions and twenty years of self-observation while healing from abuse.