Next Sunday the team of Mannie Barling and Simon Barrett will be taking to the airwaves to look at the Miramonte School scandal that has shaken Los Angeles to the core.
While it is front and center in the Sothern California news media the story has had little national coverage. Certainly nowhere near the Penn State, Sandusky debacle.
Miramonte is a disturbing story involving not just one teacher, but two. Equally disturbing is the length of time that this story has been fermenting. It started in December 2010:
Investigation begins into Florence school teacher Mark Berndt after authorities find dozens of questionable photographs of children, police say.
In June 2011 the story takes a really strange twist:
Berndt and the district reach a settlement agreement; LAUSD pays Berndt $40,000
Why did the school district pay him a settlement? It brings into question who was right and who was wrong? Or are we missing something? Rumor is that yes indeed we are missing something.
We fast forward to Jan, 31 2012:
Berndt, 61, is arrested at his Torrance apartment for allegedly committing felony molestation with 23 children ages 6 to 10 years old. Police cite the nearly 40 photographs of Berndt allegedly committing lewd acts on children. He is held on $2.3 million bail.
On February 3 we get this update:
Martin Springer, 41, also a teacher at Miramonte Elementary, is arrested at his Alhambra home on suspicion of committing lewd acts on children
And on February 6 the water gets even murkier with the revelation that:
It is learned that a former Miramonte Elementary teacher’s aide, Ricardo Guevara, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2005 for committing lewd acts with children. Guevara was convicted for a case from 2003, but had allegedly been committing such acts as far back as 1995
Obviously Miramonte was facing a crisis, both legal and moral. The solution offered by the LAUSD was to summarily move all of the staff at Miramonte to other schools.
This introduces some very ugly and morally wrong concepts. Guilt by association and punishment of the innocent may be a fact of everyday life, but for a School District to endorse it opens legal doors that might well keep the legal system busy for the foreseeable future. The old saying â€˜No smoke without fireâ€™ could well ring true for the careers of all the staff members involved.
There is also the bigger question, are these two teachers the whole story, or could there be other people, directly or indirectly involved? Might it not be better to keep the entire staff at Miramonte until the investigation is complete, rather than taking the risk of spreading the problem to other schools?
Joining us on the program will be two special guests. Peter Haven is a L.A. based attorney who may be best known for his work with the Goldman family in recovering assets from OJ Simpson to pay the $30 million awarded in the Unlawful Death law suit. And I am sure that he will have a few words to say on the subject. Did you know that OJâ€™s little mansion in Florida is under foreclosure? Peter is a man with his finger on the pulse of many cases, and he is watching the Miramonte story with interest. He also lives only 20 miles from the school, so this story is very much IN HIS BACKYARD!
Also joining us will be author Sam Moffie. His qualifications are more for what he isnâ€™t! He is not a lawyer, he is not an educator (well not in the normal sense), and he is not a politician! Sam is a straight shooter, a concerned citizen, a parent, a thinker, and a studier of society. Sam asks the simple questions, and they are always biting!
I do hope that you join us on Sunday Feb/19 at 1pm pacific, 4pm eastern, for what is bound to be a very lively program. To listen in live please use this link.
Simon Barrett Â