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LA Schools Pay $300 Million in Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

May 26, 2016 — In the last four years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has paid more than $300 million to victims of sexual abuse in schools, according to the LA Times.

The school system has been plagued by a series of case in which officials ignored complaints and continued to employ teachers after indications of sexual abuse. The result has been massive liability.

The biggest payout — $200 million — came after revelations that the district knew about complaints involving Mark Berndt, a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, dating back to 1983.

In 2013, Berndt pled guilty to blindfolding students and spoon-feeding them cookies laced with his semen. Lawsuits were filed by 30 students. All of them are in therapy and several have eating disorders.

The size of the settlements is also increasing. The first cases involving Berndt settled for $500,000 each in 2013, but more recent settlements are more than $1 million apiece.

Last week, the district paid an average of $3 million per student who was abused by former De La Torre Elementary School teacher Robert Pimentel.

Pimentel’s supervisors received complaints about him touching and slapping girls’ buttocks in 2002, but it was not until 2014 that he was convicted of molesting three students and a female relative. The district paid a $58 million settlement to 18 victims.

The district also paid $40 million related to abuse at TelFair Elementary School after victims said the school overlooked earlier molestation charges against Paul Chapel III.

The largest payout to a single victim was $6.9 million in 2012 to a boy who was sexually abused by a former teacher at Queen Anne Place Elementary named Forrest Stobbe.

Despite reforms introduced in the wake of the Miramonte scandal, predators keep surfacing and policies not followed.

Last year, former Franklin High football coach Jaime Jimenez was arrested and charged with 32 felony counts of sexual abuse dating back to 2001. One victim said the abuse began when he was 9 years old.

Prosecutors say supervisors at the school ignored Jimenez as he actively pursued and abused boys, gave them rides home from practice, bought them gifts, and had sleepovers. The sexual contact included touching, masturbation, and sodomy.

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