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New lawsuit filed against LAUSD for lewd acts

5/30/2012, 5 p.m.

Another negligence lawsuit has been filed against Los Angeles Unified School District in which additional former Miramonte Elementary School students allege they were victims of lewd acts by a teacher fired in January.

Parents of about a dozen ex-Miramonte pupils brought the suit on behalf of themselves and their children in Los Angeles Superior Court. The complaint also alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and names all seven members of the LAUSD Board of Education, as well as Superintendent John Deasy.

A similar complaint was filed May 4 on behalf of 20 other former Miramonte students.

Mark Henry Berndt, the teacher accused of committing the acts against the students, is not a defendant in either case.

"The nature, scope, duration and depravity of the abuse was on a truly massive and unprecedented scale in American history," the new complaint alleges. "His victims likely number in the hundreds."

The suit, filed Friday, seeks unspecified damages.

An LAUSD spokesman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the suit, which alleges district officials knew abuses were occurring and failed to stop them.

"Serial child abuse of this nature and on such a massive scale could not have been accomplished without the aid and assistance of many other LAUSD staff and/or administration officials ... without the LAUSD itself turning a blind eye to what was happening," the complaint alleges.

Berndt, 61, of Torrance is charged with 23 counts of committing a lewd act on a child between 2005 and 2011. The charges involve 23 children who were 7 to 10 years old.

A hearing is scheduled June 14 in Los Angeles Superior Court to set a date for a preliminary hearing.