|Attorney Gregory Owen addresses the media about the alleged crimes of Miramonte Middle School teacher Mark Berndt. Owens explains that some immigrant families of victims are reluctant to testify due to fear of deportation.|
Immigration lawyers Jessica Dominguez and Gregory Owen are representing eight victims and their families in a lawsuit regarding the recent crimes that allegedly took place at Miramonte Middle School.
“I’m here to be the voice for the voiceless,” Dominguez said Thursday morning.
The two lawyers teamed up with CHIRLA, the Coalition for Human Immigration Rights of Los Angeles, in an effort to ask the families of victims to step forward and testify.
“Some of our families have been victims of other crimes in the past. They never reported them. They never reported them because they are afraid of being detained by ICE.”
Angelica Salas, the Executive Director of CHIRLA, has made a plea to families to step forward, offering security and sensitivity.
|Raymundo, an undocumented immigrant and father of one of the alleged victims, speaks to the media about his fear to testify against Berndt. Raymundo kept his face hidden with his hood and sunglasses to protect his identity.|
“CHIRLA and many other Latino and civil rights organizations will work arduously to ensure that there is sensitivity on the issues of immigration status throughout this investigation,” Salas said.
Attorney Gregory Owen said that he was shocked that these alleged crimes were able to go on for so long without any parents or faculty members finding out.
“The school has a duty to ensure their safety. . . This guy [Mark Berndt] locked his doors. That violates every school policy. Nobody knew it. Nobody stopped it.”
An undocumented immigrant by the name of Raymundo, a father of one of the alleged victims, braved the media scrutiny to attend the news conference. However, in an effort to protect his identity, he covered most of his face with a hood and dark glasses.
Dominguez translated the fatherâ€™s statement.
“He’s still fearful that he can end up getting deported. But he wants other parents to be informed that they should protect their children and they should protect their rights.”
Salas called out to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, asking him to promise that the immigrant families who step forward will be safe from deportation. Salas believes that until that promise is made, several families will remain silenced by their own fear.