A federal lawsuit has been filed against former California teacher Chris Berdoll, 48, who was arrested in September 2018 for allegedly taking upskirt photos and videos of his female students
Six girls who have accused their teacher of surreptitiously taking upskirts photos and videos of them last year are now suing the educator and the California school district where he worked.
The Bloom Firm has filed a federal lawsuit against Chris Berdoll and the Atascadero Unified School District, claiming both defendants have caused the plaintiffs – all girls between the ages 12-14 – emotional pain and suffering.
The 20-page complaint obtained by DailyMail.com cites five claims, including Masha’s law – a federal law that gives victims of ‘child pornography’ the right to sue anyone who produces, distributes, or possesses their images – federal gender discrimination in violation of Title IX; failure to perform mandatory duty; negligent hiring and negligence.
Berdoll, 48, a sixth-grade teacher at the Fine Arts Academy in Atascadero, was arrested in September 2018 on charges of sexual exploitation of a child, production of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
According to the lawsuit, Berdoll convinced his students to have lunch with him three to four times a week. When they tried to refuse, he allegedly ‘made them feel guilty by telling them that he is “very sad.”‘
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Berdoll had taught at the Fine Arts Academy in Atascadero, California, since 2011; he resigned in September 2018
The veteran teacher also allegedly used other methods to lure the girls into his classroom during breaks, such as bringing his dog to school ‘knowing that the girls love dogs.’
‘When the girls managed to avoid his lunch meetings, he would find them on the playground and lurk around them while carrying his iPad,’ according to the complaint.
The Atascadero Police Department said in a news release at the time of Berdoll’s arrest that the school district contacted the police about ‘the possibility of a district teacher who had inappropriately video-recorded the undergarments of female students.’
The investigation that followed revealed that Berdoll allegedly used a phone or a tablet to secretly take upskirt videos and photos of multiple female students in his math class during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years.
‘It currently appears that none of the schoolchildren involved were physically molested; however, inappropriate videotaping did take place,’ the press release stated.
When police executed a search warrant at Berdoll’s home, they reportedly recovered images and videos depicting girls’ legs, crotches and backsides under their desks.
The teacher also would allegedly stand behind the students with his phone or iPad in hand when the girls got up to sharpen pencils, or to help him hang posters on the wall.
According to the federal lawsuit, Berdoll also spliced images of himself having sex with photos and videos of his female students.
The federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Berdoll’s alleged victims is seeking unspecified ‘full and fair compensation’ for the adolescent plaintiffs.
The Bloom Firm, which is handling the case, is headed by high-powered civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, who in the past represented women who accused former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment, and who also advised Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as he faced mounting sexual assault allegations.
Berdoll is currently out on $500,000 bail pending his October 29 arraignment on 44 criminal counts related to child pornography.
Celebrity attorney Lisa Bloom’s firm has filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of the six young plaintiffs
He was initially placed on paid leave, and in late September 2018 he resigned from the school where he had taught for seven years.
In August 2018 – less than two weeks before Berdoll’s arrest – the Atascadero Unified School District retained the Fresno law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo to conduct an investigation into allegations of misconduct on Berdoll’s part.
Three months later, the firm produced a seven-page Title IX report outlining its findings.
According to the report obtained by DailyMail.com, on August 20, 2018, Berdoll asked one of his students if she could help him during a break to set up the classroom for a science lesson. Two other girls joined in to give them a hand.
While the first girl got up on a chair to hang some posters, Berdoll reportedly approached her from behind with a recording device at his chest level and videotaped her backside.
When the girl on the chair turned around, ‘she was him quickly withdrew the recording devise [sic] toward his chest, as if he knew he had been caught doing something improper,’ the report stated.
The document went on to list numerous similar examples of female students in Berdoll’s class allegedly catching him in the act of recording their crotches, backsides and legs with his phone or iPad on campus.
The report concluded that the school district took ‘timely actions’ consistent with Title IX parameters for agency response by placing the teacher on leave and notifying students and parents.