A group of 81 former students of third-grade teacher Mark Berndt have been awarded a $140 million settlement from the L.A. Unified School District over the fact that, yes, Berndt has a history reaching far back into his 30-year teaching career of abusing his students by making them eat semen-laced cookies, masturbating in front of them, showing them his penis, and photographing them tied up and blindfolded. And because the district has a history reaching equally far of looking the other way.
The teacher finally got in trouble for his abuses two years ago, when he took a bunch of pictures of his students tied up bondage-style. He then then took those pictures to the local pharmacy to be developed, because Berndt is apparently too dumb as well as too much of a sicko to be a teacher. The young clerk who found herself developing negatives of blindfolded third-graders had only been on the job a month, and when she brought the problem to her bosses, found out that Berndt had been bringing in similar pictures since 2005. The managers didn’t think it was a big deal, but fortunately she called the police anyway against their advice. Can we stop wringing our hands about ‘the youth of today’ now? Because this 19-year-old kid is about a million times better of a person than her ‘adult’ bosses. And I can’t even begin to compare her to Berndt, because I’ll break the scale if I try.
”” Two teachers reported Berndt was exposing himself to students in the mid-1990s.
”” Several girls had complained in the early 1990s that Berndt was masturbating in class, but the allegations were dismissed and the girls were accused of lying.
Hmm, who to trust, the teacher with past recorded incidents of inappropriate behavior, or the ‘several girls’ reporting his misconduct?
The school district was also familiar with the issue of the icky photography that was going on, because in 2008 a parent brought a photograph of a child eating a semen-laced cookie to their attention and demanded something be done about Berndt. The parent wanted to call the police, but the district said no, and the police were never called … because of the district’s main demographic, low-income Hispanic families who had to make the no-win choice between deportation and reporting this abuse.
The district is the one on the hook for the $140 million, not Berndt himself, who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence on ‘lewd acts’ charges. But don’t worry about him financially: he wasn’t fired from his teaching job, but rather retired, pension intact. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a shower in bleach so I can get on with the rest of my day.