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Children's immigration status in civil liability suits won't be revealed under new law

Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.
Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images
File photo: A new law prevents disclosure of immigration status of children involved in civil suits such as those related to the Miramonte Elementary School sex abuse scandal.

Starting in January, a child doesn’t have to reveal whether he or she is in this country illegally when bringing civil lawsuits in which damages could be awarded.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill this week that bars the disclosure of children's immigration status in suits like those filed against Los Angeles Unified School District in the Miramonte Elementary sexual abuse scandal.

Former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt is serving a 25 year prison sentence for 23 lewd acts on students. The district has paid $170 million so far to settle legal claims.

A push by LAUSD lawyers to force disclosure of the immigration status of children in the Miramonte settlement case was unfair, said Los Angeles-area Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who authored the bill signed by Brown.

“The kids who were hurt by somebody who sexually abused them — they’re kids, no matter what, if they’re undocumented or documented. And they’re in our public schools, they’re in our communities, they’re part of the fabric of our city,” Gomez said.

LAUSD did not respond to a request for comment. The district previously said immigration status can be considered by juries weighing loss of wages or earnings in lawsuits, NBC4 has reported.