February 3, 2012 – A second Miramonte Elementary School instructor was arrested just days after a third grade teacher was charged with lewd acts on nearly two dozen children between the ages of seven and 10. The second teacher was pulled from his classroom after an unnamed individual made allegations against him, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement. On January 30th, 61-year-old Mark Berndt, who had been employed at Miramonte for nearly three decades, was jailed on $23 million bail and could face life in prison if convicted.
Mark Berndt Sexual Abuse Update 5/10/12: Mark Berndt has reportedly waived his right to a speedy trial, and must next face a hearing where the government will outline its case against him that may take up to 10 days to complete. Judge Shelly Torrealba agreed to delay the hearing until at least the middle of June. Click here to learn more.
Mark Berndt Sexual Abuse Update 2/9/12: The controversy surrounding a Los Angeles elementary school where two former teachers were detained last week on lewdness charges deepened yesterday when 200 more inappropriate photos surfaced. The case of third grade teacher Mark Berndt, who has been accused of such atrocities as feeding his students his own semen in bizarre ‘tasting games,’ has ignited public outrage and a firestorm of international headlines. Click here to learn more.
Free Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the perpetrator of the sexual abuse and we can help.
What’s the problem?
Superintendent Deasy said he wouldn’t discuss the allegations against the as-of-yet unnamed school teacher, or whether they were of a sexual nature.
“This just came to our attention yesterday. … The information was new. It’s not, like, something we dug up.” Deasy said, stressing the fact that the teacher was arrested “out of an abundance of caution” rather than because of any definitive physical evidence.
“In the Berndt case, allegations came forward with photographs and evidence, so to speak. That is not the case.”
Since news of Berndt’s arrest broke, the district has reportedly seen a sharp increase in allegations of sexual abuse against school teachers.
The second teacher was removed and arrested less than 24 hours after authorities revealed publicly that Berndt allegedly tried unsuccessfully to fondle a 10-year-old girl in 1993. Prosecutors were unable to bring charges against Berndt in that case, stating they did not have sufficient evidence.
News of the allegations raised questions about why Berndt wasn’t removed from his position earlier by school officials, who have drawn anger from some parents for waiting a year before revealing the teacher was suspected of explicit sex acts on his students. According to reports, only parents of children identified as victims were informed about the recent investigation.
The new charges accuse Berndt of taking nearly 400 lewd photographs of his students, some of which feature a giant Madagascar cockroach from a classroom terrarium on their faces. Other children were blindfolded or had clear tape placed over their mouths, while some were given cookies laced with semen to eat in the photo sessions. Berndt reportedly told his students it was all a game.
Authorities focused their attention on Berndt last fall when a CVS photo lab turned a number of the bizarre pictures over to Redondo Beach Police. Berndt was pulled from his classroom in January and subsequently fired at the next board meeting.
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