Lewd 'Tasting Game' Claims Cost LA District $30M

Victims to each get $470K settlement in Mark Berndt case
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2013 10:33 AM CDT
Lewd 'Tasting Game' Claims Cost LA District $30M
In this Feb. 21, 2012 file photo, Mark Berndt, right, looks to his attorney, Victor Acevedo, during his arraignment in Los Angeles Municipal Court Metropolitan Branch.   (AP Photos/Al Seib, Pool, File)

Los Angeles Unified School District has reached a $30 million settlement in the case of former third-grade teacher Mark Berndt, who is accused of of spoon-feeding children his own semen during what he called "tasting games." The arrangement, pending court approval, will settle 58 of the 191 claims and lawsuits in the case; the Miramonte Elementary School victims will receive $470,000 each. Lawyers say they aimed to get the case over with as quickly as possible to prevent further damage to the children involved, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Through an early resolution process, we've been able to settle a large number of the Miramonte cases in a manner that enables the children and the families to avoid the pains of litigation, but provides fair and reasonable compensation," say former officials who oversaw the mediation. Prosecutors say Berndt fed students his semen on cookies and by spoon, sometimes blindfolding and photographing them. He is currently in custody and has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct in the criminal case. (More Miramonte Elementary School stories.)

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