Arraignment Postponed For Teacher Accused Of Committing Lewd Acts On 23 Children

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Arraignment was delayed Wednesday for a former Miramonte Elementary School teacher who allegedly committed lewd acts against dozens of children between 2008 and 2010.

Mark Berndt, 61, is accused of taking photos of students while they were bound and gagged in his classroom. Some photos show cockroaches being placed on students’ faces, while others show them being spoon fed a milky-white substance that tested positive for the teacher’s DNA.

He faces 23 counts of committing a lewd act on a child involving 23 children. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials also announced Wednesday that more potential victims have come forward.

Police say the horrifying allegations came to light after a photo processing technician saw the photos Berndt had printed in January of last year. Commercial film developers are obligated by law to report child pornography to police.

After uncovering nearly 300 photos, investigators used DNA evidence to connect Berndt to the victims. They then found spoons in the instructor’s trash — similar to the ones used in the photos — that reportedly contained Berndt’s bodily fluid.

“The day that it was brought to my attention we removed him from his assignment,” Deasy told KNX 1070.

Berndt was fired last January and, given school policy, was able to resign soon after — a move that allows long-time teachers to keep their pension.

The former teacher was arrested at his home in Torrance on Monday.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports parents like Kimberly Kirkland, who has two children that attended Miramonte and one child who is still a student, are outraged over the district’s failure to notify the community.

“I’m angry, I’m very angry, and I’m disappointed,” said Kirkland. “This is an embarrassment to the community. I feel like they should have sent some sort of newsletter out or should have placed a phone call.”

Students who were allegedly victimized by Berndt have been given “psychological support” and guidance counseling over the course of the last year, Deasy said.

School officials say law enforcement asked them not to comment until the investigation is over.

The superintendent would not confirm whether the abuse was committed during school hours, but said that no sex acts were involved.

Deasy did confirm that there was overwhelming evidence to justify terminating the teacher.

“We fired him on the spot on the evidence of the photographs, not where it happened,” he said. “It makes no difference to me where it happened, it happened.”

Berndt is being held in solitary confinement on $23 million bail, $1 million for each count.

Comments

One Comment

  1. duh says:

    Wow, better give this guy body armor for his court appearances.

  2. Michael J. McDermott says:

    I saw that guy around LA. so many times.

  3. Aaron Aronson says:

    Die sick-o

  4. Jerome Almon says:

    YOU TELL ME HOW THIS CAN BE EXLPLAINED AWAY?
    -How could he not be arrested immediately and the community informed”
    -How could he be alone with kids as a male IN a school?
    -No one saw him with these blindfolds, etc?
    -How much did the school cover up?
    -Why are laws so lax on child molesters, and harsh on non-violent crimes like marijuana possession? A police chief from Minnesota once said:
    “The reasons laws are so light in this area legislatures, city councilman, and politicians make up a significant portion of pedophiles.”
    -What school have you attended where teachers don’t have an adult aide?
    -No teacher dropped by his classroom or saw him with all these kids?
    -PUT HIM IN GENERAL POPULATION, THE PRISONERS WILL GIVE THE KIDS JUSTICE, THE LEGAL SYSTEM WON’T.

  5. null says:

    We’re still not going after also the LAUSD administration at that school, faculty and staff that never questioned strange behavior or activity on the part of this sick perverted animal?

    Where were they, the faculty when they saw “things”?

    Please. Its also facilitators and people that turned away, there’s more to this. AND horrifically, more out there in the LAUSD system I bet.

  6. Richard B says:

    Sadly, if these heinous acts were commited against children in a white, affluent community, I’d bet the farm that it would not have taken a year to come to light

  7. Candace Miller says:

    There is a special place in hell for people like this.

    1. Frank says:

      Its always the Mexicans and Latinos…a never ending story.

  8. Calgal says:

    This sick disgusting worthless excuse for a human being, should be thrown in a hole and buried alive.

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