February 9, 2012 – 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. The new developments came as the school district scrambled to reopen Miramonte Elementary School with an entirely new staff.
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.
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.
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According to three lawsuits filed this week against the Los Angeles School District, 61-year-old Mark Berndt sent birthday cards to a number of his victims, asking how they were doing in the fourth grade. Berndt also reportedly stated warmly in the notes that “surely no teacher could ever have a more wonderful student than you!!” and “P.P.S. The Roaches Say `Hi!'”
The birthday cards were submitted as exhibits in the lawsuits, which were filed on behalf of three former students of Berndt’s. The complaints allege that LAUSD and Principal Martin Sandoval were negligent in failing to protect them against Berndt and a second instructor who was subsequently arrested, Martin Springer, who is being held on three charges of lewdness stemming from the alleged fondling of a second grader.
Meanwhile, sheriff’s investigators said yesterday that they had uncovered 200 new lewd photographs they believe were taken by Berndt. The photos were turned over to authorities late last week at the same CVS pharmacy where an employee first noticed bizarre pictures that led to Berndt’s arrest. The discovery brings the total number of photos confiscated in the case to around 600.
Like the other pictures, the new photos show boys and girls ages six to 10 blindfolded and being fed a milky white substance from a blue spoon. Other photos showed children gagged with a giant Madagascar cockroach crawling across their face, or eating semen-laced cookies.
Berndt taught at Miramonte Elementary for more than three decades, where the 120-member staff was completely replaced this week in response to public outcry over the case. The school was closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and is slated to reopen with employees hired from a list of recently laid off workers.
The old staff will be temporarily placed at a nearby school under construction as they are interviewed in a district investigation about how the alleged sexual abuse went on for so long without being detected.
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