Most Los Angeles lewd conduct charges, fortunately, are relatively “small scale.” They might involve one person committing an alleged sex crime against another or a few people.
However, there are times when certain crimes lead to a kind of “mass harm” and draw the attention of both community and the media. One of those cases involved some insane allegations against 61-year-old Mark Berndt, a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, who faces 23 counts of Los Angeles lewd conduct. He’s currently being held in jail on a bail of $23 million.
The allegations against Berndt are almost too hard to believe. Here is a direct quote from Reuters about what he faces: “He has been accused of spoon feeding his semen to blindfolded children as part of what he allegedly called a tasting game. He is also accused of putting cockroaches on children’s faces and feeding them semen tainted cookies at the school.”
All told, 62 parents and 126 students have filed claims for damages against the Los Angeles Unified School District. In response to the buzz of legal action, there was a stay put on lawsuits arising in connection with Mr. Berndt’s alleged conduct. Last Thursday, Judge Malcolm Mackey of Los Angeles County Superior Court lifted that stay, so that kids and their parents could formally proceed with their legal actions. The stay had been put to try to help the parties come to an early negotiated agreement. Mediation will continue, per Judge Mackey’s direction, but who knows how this will all suss out?
The allegations are certainly salacious and disturbing, particularly in light of the recent school shooting in Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
What’s going on with these horrendous acts at our nation’s elementary schools? Our kids need to be safe and free from predators and violence.
If you have recently been charged with a sex crime or a lewd conduct charge in Los Angeles, odds are that you feel similarly. You are probably pretty disgusted by what Mr. Berndt allegedly did and certainly horrified by what happened in Newtown. At the same time, however, because of your charges, you worry that other people might lump you in with someone like Mr. Berndt – and think that you are essentially the same. After all, “a sex crime is a sex crime,” according to the popular mentality.
But your situation might have been very different!
For instance, you might have been arrested (fairly or unfairly) for engaging in a sex act with a consensual partner in a public restroom. You might not have made the smartest decision. But your crime certainly paled in comparison to feeding semen to blindfolded children.
Even if you did make serious mistakes, and you need help, you are entitled to a robust legal defense, and you are also entitled to a little empathy. The team here at The Law Offices of Michael Kraut can help you find a strategic defense to your Los Angeles criminal charges. Mr. Kraut is a former prosecutor for the city, so he knows how the people prosecuting your case typically think and work.