Former Student Says Accused Teacher Was ‘Weird’ 2 Decades Ago

[Note: Story is graphic and contains disturbing details]

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Graduate student Nadine Martinez Rodriguez says she is not at all surprised at the arrest of teacher Mark Berndt.

She was in Berndt’s class two decades ago.

By phone from Santa Barbara, she spoke with CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Serene Branson. She recalls then that Berndt’s hand was “always in his lap … vaseline in his drawer.”

Rodriguez says, “It’s so sad… all the kids who had to go through his class and deal with his weird behaviors.”

She says now that she and other girls told their parents — and counselors —  about their teacher — dating back to 1991 — but they were dismissed and accused of having it all in their heads.

Berndt, 61, formerly a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School was arrested at his Torrance apartment Monday after being accused of taking sexually-suggestive photos of his 7-10-year-old students. The photos reportedly include scenes of bondage, tape over their children’s mouths, cockroaches being placed on their faces. Others showing the students being spoon-fed a milky-white substance that lab tests later confirmed contain the teacher’s DNA.

Some of the more than 300 photos were allegedly uncovered by a photo lab tech in January 2011. (Commercial film developers are required by law to report child porn images to police.)

Berndt, a teacher since 1979, is under investigation.

Angry parents, former students, the public … want to know how he could teach for decades, reportedly abuse students, and get away with it all this time. Says Rodriguez, “It’s sad that it had to take this long.”

Berndt’s bail was set at $23 million.


    Protected by the teacher’s unions since 1979, as usual.

    It’s time to get rid of all these damn unions – period.

    • Jason Rahall

      Time to get rid of people who seek to defund public schools to redistribute tax money to con-artist charters.

    • Astonished

      Just were did you find mention of the teacher’s union getting involved? From all the articles I’ve been reading, it was the school administrators who failed to listen to the children! The union wouldn’t have been involved unless these was a possiblity of disciplinary action against this waste-of-breath.

      Besides, sad to say, 20-years ago, people tended NOT to listen to children in these matters in hopes it would go away when they changed teachers.

      So stop trying to use this story to further your own hatred!

  • O_O

    “Hand in his lap, vaseline in his desk” —–> I highly doubt that. This lady is making that up just to get her 15 seconds of fame. Not that I’m saying this creep didn’t do anything inappropriate, but I don’t believe for a second what this lady claims.

    • Deborah Wilson

      O_O No, she isn’t making it up to get her fifteen minutes of fame.

      THOSE kind of comments are ONE of the reasons children are afraid to report.

      Please think about it. Thanks, God bless.

    • ketracel

      You must be the counselor that she tried to report this to years ago.

    • Carolyn

      O_O, I can only hope you don’t have kids.

  • Michael J. McDermott

    P.S. That’s, “check them out”. Sorry about typo. Can’t elaborate too much but, I know somebody out there knows them and has the same hunch that I do. Enough, and good riddance to them.

    • Foo

      Tell the police, not us.

  • Jason

    This is why men shouldn’t be allowed to teach elementary school.

    • O_O

      Well that’s a pretty ignorant comment to make. You don’t pay much attention to headlines that involve female teachers and inappropriate behavior, do you? Probably a man-hater. (Yes, I see that your name is “Jason”, but anyone can sit behind a computer and call themselves whatever they want and no one would be any wiser.) <——– Check out the link and get to know our FEMALE offenders better.

    • Robert

      And women shouldn’t be allowed to teach middle school

  • MERO


    • JP

      No Mero, you pretty much covered the racism for us here, thanks. Now we can move on.

  • RED

    When are people going to listen to these kids!!!! Nobody wants to listen to the kids..! When they’re the one’s sitting in the classroom day in & day out! Children are really smart when it comes to stuff like this BECAUSE they really have a hard time lying about these kinds of stuff. If and when a child mentions anything uncomfortable, they’ll say it once. If they believe they are being heard, then they’ll tell us the whole truth. If we shoo them away like they’re just to young to understand, then they’ll not say anything else about it. YET, all along they knew instinctively something is terribly wrong! We adults JUST DON’T LISTEN! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

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  • Tyrone

    If theres’s alligation’s are true please!!! hang your self in your jail cell.this is a very sick person and is beyond help. and all those people in this elemantary
    school that helped protect these sick minded P.O.S. should be found guilty of obstruction.

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  • Jason Rahall

    She should have told the principal 20 yrs ago – ‘weird’ only gets worse as time goes by.

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