TORRANCE (CBS) — A parent came forward Thursday with a disturbing photo that she believes may be related to the case of a teacher accused of bizarre sex crimes.
“So many pictures it is weird. At first i didn’t want to believe it but it makes me think,” said Obdulia Bueno, who was horrified to learn that a seemingly innocent picture of her son eating a cookie may be something far more sinister.
The photo depicts a white liquid on the cookie, which Bueno believes is the bodily fluid of her son’s third-grade teacher, Mark Berndt.
She said Berndt sent the picture home with her son.
“I want to see what kind of cookies are they,” she said.
The veteran Miramonte School teacher faces 23 counts of lewd acts on a child.
Investigators said they believed that one of his offenses was spoon-feeding his semen to students.
Monday police arrested Berndt at this Torrance home for allegedly taking hundreds of sexually suggestive photos of his students ages 7 to 10.
“We want first, anybody who thinks they were a victim to come forward,” said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.
We learned that Berndt’s troubles began in 1994, when L.A. County Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation after a 9-year-old student told her mother Berndt touched her inappropriately in class.
We went to the home of the then principal Eloise Blanton, but her husband said he was away on business.
“I reviewed the case and it was a thorough investigation,” said LASD Sergeant Dan Scott.
Deputies filed a report with the district attorney, who determined there was insufficient evidence and dismissed the case.
Ramone Cortinez was the superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District last year and fired Berndt when new allegations of student abuse surfaced. He said despite no charges back in ’94, the district did have the power to fire him then.
“Legal would tell the superintended, because they told me, ‘no, you cannot do that’ and I said, ‘Oh yes I am,’” Cortines said.