Students in Los Angeles who ate cookies baked with a teacher’s semen in 2012 will receive $139 million as the case that rocked the country was finally resolved on Friday.
The Los Angeles Unified School District reportedly agreed to pay the settlement in order to end litigation, reports Crime Feed. Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mike Berndt, 62, was fired after his three-decade career as an educator when he was arrested after being accused of blindfolding students and feeding them cookies that he made with his own semen, reports KATU. A total of 82 students were involved in the lawsuit that followed.
During his trial, the plaintiff’s lawyers were able to present evidence that suggested the school district – which is the second-largest in the nation -- knew the teacher had been accused of sexual misconduct 30 years ago and failed to act upon it. Several then-fourth-grade girls reportedly claimed Berndt masturbated in class in the early 1990s, but their case was dismissed and they were accused of lying.
Berndt ultimately exposed himself for what he is when he made the mistake of dropping off photos at a pharmacy to be processed that showed him in the act of blindfolding his students. A worker at the pharmacy contacted police and an investigation was opened.
While the investigation was taking place, all 130 school staff members were reportedly removed from the school by the district and placed at an unopened empty campus.
Berndt pleaded no contest to 25 counts of lewd conduct and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The $139 million settlement is in addition to another $30 million the district agreed to pay to settle 65 other cases involving the same teacher.
“Our goal from the outset of these appalling revelations has been to spare the Miramonte community the anguish of a protracted trial, while at the same time being mindful of the financial consequences stemming from settlements,” said Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines in a statement. “Given these circumstances, we believe we struck a balance between those objectives.”
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, ZUMAPRESS.com/Daily Mail