$139M School District’s Sex Abuse Settlement, UVA’s Suspension of Fraternities Over Gang Rape Allegations Shine Yet Another Spotlight on Sexual Violence in Schools

A school district in California has agreed to pay $139 million to resolve the remaining sex abuse lawsuits involving an elementary school teacher. Mark Berndt, a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, was convicted of numerous counts of lewd conduct.
Some 82 students are involved in the settlement, which was arrived at during jury selection of the trial.

According to plaintiffs, Berndt blindfolded the kids and fed them his sperm on cookies. If the child sex abuse trial had gone through, the alleged victims’ lawyers had intended to show evidence suggesting that the district knew of sexual misconduct allegations involving Berndt three decades ago but did not nothing until a pharmacy photo processor notified the authorities that there was film showing the kids blindfolded while eating an unknown substance.

Aside from the$139 million settlement, the school district had previously agreed to pay $30 million to resolve 65 other sex abuse cases involving Berndt.

Meantime, sexual assault allegations have prompted the University of Virginia to suspended all fraternities and associated parties through January 9. The move comes after an article in Rolling Stone magazine described one student’s experience of being gang raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi house in 2012. The alleged victim said the incident lasted three hours. She says that she notified the school’s Sexual Misconduct Board about what happened.

However, according to Rolling Stone, the university didn’t decide to investigate the fraternity until its administrators found out that the magazine was working on an article about the incident. University of Virginia president Teresa A. Sullivan reportedly asked police to investigate the alleged rape just several days ago.

Unfortunately, sexual crimes happen in elementary schools, high schools, and on college campuses. It is the job of the school, the district, and administrators to protect students and prevent sexual abuse and rape from happening. When a student becomes a victim of molestation or sexual assault while under the school’s watch, he or she may have legal grounds for pursuing a Boston sex abuse injury lawsuit against the abuser, as well as the party (or parties) that should have prevented the crime from happening.

California: School District to Pay Settlement in Sex Abuse Case, New York Times/AP, November 21, 2014

UVA suspends fraternities after report on gang rape allegation, CNN, November 24, 2014

President Obama Launches the “It’s On Us” Campaign to End Sexual Assault on Campus, The White House, September 19, 2014

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