SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Parents of students at a South L.A. school are disgusted and outraged after a teacher was arrested for allegedly taking lewd photos of dozens of children.

Mark Berndt, a 61-year-old teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, reportedly took photos of students bound and gagged in his classroom. Some photos show cockroaches being placed on the students’ faces. Others are being fed a milky-white substance on a spoon that lab tests confirm tested positive for the teacher’s DNA.

The lewd acts allegedly occurred between 2008 and 2010, according to the sheriff’s department.

Police said the horrifying allegations only came to light after a photo processing technician saw the photos when Berndt went to get them printed in January 2011. Commercial film developers are obligated by law to report child pornography to police.

After uncovering the nearly 300 photos, investigators then used DNA evidence to connect Berndt to the victims. They 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 2 kids 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 the teacher have been given “psychological support” and guidance counseling over the course of last year, Deasy said.

School officials said law enforcement asked them to not comment until the investigation was over.

“I trusted this man so I don’t know who to trust,” said Lois Segoviana, whose son was a student in Berndt’s class 15 years ago.

Segoviana said she blames the school district, along with Berndt, for what allegedly happened, claiming that if there weren’t so many budget cuts in place there could have been more teacher aides to deter this sort of behavior.

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

One mother said school officials indicated that the alleged incident happened during the after-school program.

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 and on $2.3 million bail.

Comments (55)
  1. tod says:

    Oh my God! I can’t believe this is real. How could this happen. Did the man go insane? How could the school allow this to go on? I keep waiting for somebody to say this is a mistake. This has to be the most barbaric thing I’ve read. How horrific can it get? Oh my God. Those poor children. I just…I

    1. thomas.pereida says:

      This is a shame that something like this can go on for so long and no one know about it surly someone must have known. Parents need to listen to their kids ask questions about their school day and get involved in their education. I also think cameras should be put in every classroom in grades preschool thru 8 th these kids are most vulnerable to predators like this.

      1. Steve Goodelle says:

        As a teacher, I have no problem with cameras in the classroom. Most teachers would welcome them.

      2. elderina says:

        I agree. I taught and i would have liked cameras. I had nothing to hide. and ps i think the kids would have behaved better had they known there were camersa

      3. troy says:

        um and these cameras you suggest? someone has to record and or monitor them right? so what is to stop that person who INSTALLS, RECORDS OR MONITORS them from using them in some sick way? cameras will not help anything what will help is parents being involved in their kids life. i worked for many years as a janitor at several diffrent schools and as you may know the janitor is some how invisable lol the kids and teachers seem to talk about all kinds of stuff with us there and they never seem to see us. well i heard TONS of kids over the years talk about how their parents, teachers and just about every ADULT in their lives COULD NOT CARE A BIT about them. sure some of that is just kids being kids and thinking that no one cares. but i personally saw lots of kids over the years with major issues and their parents were so in the dark it was sad. so parents need to pay attention cuz in my view no way should 23 kids get abused like this and not a single parent saw something wrong with their kid.

    2. Realist says:

      Get your facts right you racist fool, check the Megan’s law web site and check department of justice rape statistics and you’ll find out the truth.
      From the Department Of Justice, United States of America, Prison population as of 2008
      4,777 per 100,000 Black Men
      1,760 per 100,000 Hispanic Men
      727 per 100,000 White Men

      1. weasel says:

        white men are not a majority in prison because they only go after and arrest other races if this were a black or latino man they would not have taken a year to arrest him and you know it!!

  2. juztees says:

    Because this monster proberly has been hating women all his life, and has been turned down, rejected as well and is a pervert in disguise. He’ll get his turn in prison.

    1. rebelyell says:

      Yeah, he proberly will, lol!

  3. Realist says:

    Seems like the criminals and perverts are in the classrooms, surveillance cameras should be trained on the teachers and coaches, they are the real threat to our children.

    1. elderina says:

      The cameras would also protect the teachers. From the kids and from false accusations. I do believe that this man did what he did. I just think sometimes people make mistakes. Not in this case though

  4. Alan Di says:

    Did the DA ever ask this man about the pictures or did he just jump to a conclusion? I find it hard to believe that 23 children were abused in such a fashion and not ONE OF THE PARENTS COMPLAINED! Come on folks there is another answer to this question.

    1. mike says:

      totally agree alan there is NO POSSIBLE WAY he could do this to 23 diffrent kids and NON of them went home and told their parents or non of the parents noticed marks or changes in behavior of their kids there is something missing here

    2. tod says:

      I wonder if this all happened in one day. The evidence of the spoon (gross and horrific as that aspect of the crime is) was found in the classroom. Maybe this guy had been planning the thing for a long time, and then did it all in one day so he could get the photographs and go home and…fulfill his sick fantasies. What I want to know is how STUPID and oblivious could he be to think that the film processor would not raise a red flag in looking at these pictures?

  5. Big Jue says:

    Berndt is being held on $2.3 million bail. I don’t condone what he did but the bail does not fit the crime, murders’ bail is less alot of times.

  6. 1stman says:

    Joe “pedo” Paterno would approve of this man

  7. d says:

    Soounds kinda like fear factor to me.

  8. Susan Perticone says:

    He probably told the kids he would kill them or their parents.

  9. Michael J. McDermott says:

    Frankly, uhh… GOOD LUCK!

  10. mario says:

    omg this is beyond sick ill be back ima go throw up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Dusty Rhodes says:

    just when you think you have heard of everything, the bottom just keeps getting lower…. this is sick on so many levels, that it will be years before the facts come out. someone must have known about this perv a long time ago, this just didnt happen this year, a guy like this works his way to that level over a lifetime…..

    and now the lawyers will go after the schools and others who should have known….. this is worse than anything during the mcmartin case 20 years ago…..

  12. Ingrid Williams says:

    God please protect our poor children from sick, insane, crazy azz people like this man. He should rot in prison if the charges he’s facing are true. No child should ever have to go through this sort of abuse, especially in school. Parents it’s your right to make sure you are going to your children (s) school and popping up/in from time to time to see what’s really going on. We need to make sure we are our kids first line of defense and stop thinking that other people have your kids best interest– because they don’t. Make sure you’re involved in your childrens school, and don’t leave it up to other people to do what you should be doing yourself.

  13. Mel says:

    Doesn’t anybody wonder about the incidents that did not get photographed? That’s why things like this Happen, because all you Parents have IQ’s in in the 50’s.
    This would never Happen in a place like Newport Beach where we get involved with our Children.

    1. weasel says:

      youre youre an idiot

  14. Frank says:

    It figures…probably has Latino impulses and tendencies.

  15. USC Trojan Girl says:

    It’s funny how everyone is so shocked about what happened. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Men being sexual freaks and or sexually compulsive is normal behavior for most of them. Key word there was most not all. Yes, it is totally sick for anyone to do anything sexual with a child but people just have to come to terms with the fact that as long as human males exist on this planet this will continue to happen. Whether its something as minor as our ex-mayors of New York or El Monte sleeping with prostitutes or something more drastic as in this case, if it has anything to do with sex and men be angry and mad but don’t be shocked because most men cannot control their sexual urges. There is no way of rehabilitating these people…they will risk it all including going to prison in order for them to release those feel good endorphins in their brains.

    1. Mike says:

      Trojan girl,

      Out of all the messages on here yours is the best. Totally agree 110%. People always have this “how could he do that” attitude yet they do not understand how sexual urges can overpower a mans ability to think clearly. Place a 60 year old straight man and a lets say…15 year old attractive girl who is a virgin in a setting where he is able to have sex with her without any disturbances and 99% of men would do something sexual. Sick? Yes…Shocking…HELL NO!

      1. GR0WAPAIR says:

        So then, you’re the one percent with a limp d!ck and no balls, puS$y dumbf**k.

    2. Art says:

      Yea Trojan Girl. We are lucky that Men have these Instincts or most of us would not be here. If Americans were not so Sexually repressed incidents like these might not Happen. The more We try not to be Sexual or bad because of what Normal Society says the weirder things can get

    3. sean says:

      nice. and what are you saying? that if only the world was full of american women it would be a paradise. yeah right.

    4. GROWAPAIR says:

      Okay sh!thead, now tell everyone about the dumb little b!tches on social networks (gosh, I wonder which one in particular) that are continuosly in the news for meeting to be “sexually abused”… several times until they get caught. And, let’s not forget they’ll probably grow up to be dumbaS$ tramps, especially the ones that get b00b jobs so their clothes” fit” better” that are “plied” with free drinks while barhopping, then can’t figure out why they wake up ass naked in a stranger’s bed crying rape

  16. Banana says:

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  17. Jus says:

    The problem’s are that these men in our community some of these pig’s come in sheeps clothing, they weasel into our community , our homes, and yes , even churches, and they shred peoples live’s and no one takes the time to do a back ground check , or even on google to see if there may be some thng that should bring us to be concerned. These men may also be activist, lawyers, yes, sad, to say, leaders in our community that may be crimminals , may have destroyed countless of women and childrens lives for decades, but we are so trusting, that we don’t see past the attire and slick smile. People it’s time to take action and open our eyes for our childrens sake.

    1. mark says:

      JUS a BGC is only effective IF the person has one to check. What i mean is many of these people who hurt kids sometimes have never done it before or never got caught for it before thus there would be nothing to find. what i think is or would be more effective is a intense QUESTION AND ANSWER process meaning ask teachers, preachers, day care types and anyone else that would commonly come in contact with our kids questions that may flush out their hidden feelings and or belifes. they do it for the police dept that i work for not so much questions about kids but they question us about how we would feel and or react in varied cases to see if maybe we have a violent streek in us or on the other end of that stick a hidden problem that would keep us from reacting when the need is there to save our own life or that of the people we are there to protect meaning ARE WE A COWARD. case in point i had a partner who was a GREAT cop had a great way with the public was very kind with victims and knew how to talk to them when they had experienced a loss. he had a keen eye for spoting something that was out of place but he had one fatal flaw we got into a shooting situation and he folded like a house of cards he could not fire when he needed to and hid crying behind our car. lucky for us both another unit arrived and backed us up. all the BGCs in the would would not have found that one flaw but a questions and answers deal ot a REAL LIFE SCENERIO game may have caught it. my point is some of these WOLFS IN SHEEPS CLOTHS as you called it have nothing in their past by which we can spot them.

      1. juztees says:

        That’s why it’s so important to be very observant of those individuals that are very close to our children and in our circle . To educate our kids to always speak up and not ever be alone with an individual like teachers, coaches, so on. I used and still tell my teenage kids, don’t go in the restroom alone, ever…..

  18. Judy Fernandez says:

    As a former public school teacher who home schools my children, I would like to know how many complaints went unheeded on this pervert. My experience in multiple districts is that parents and teachers who bring up concerns of abuse are vilified. Whistle blowers are silenced, colleagues turn a blind eye, unions protect the worst teachers and districts ignore child abuse laws. Abuse happens all the time, most kids don’t know how to tell parents and are threatened by abusers into silence. Also when brave parents do take a stand districts do some very unetical things to silence them. Parents must do multiple surprise visits and be very present in the classroom. Until parents and taxpayers demand getting rid of tenure, bad teachers will continue to be rewarded with salary, benefits and pension and children will continue to suffer. Parents need to wake up and join Parent Revolution in LA and UP for ED in San Diego.

  19. Mel says:

    If the children weren’t really hurt, How can this be a Crime even though it was despicable?

    1. Patsy says:

      Would YOU like some perverted child preditor feeding their bodily fluids to Your child?? Taping your childs eyes, mouth closed taking pictures etc. Thats sick!! People like him need mental help. Most child preditors are beyond help.

  20. Patsy says:

    Children need to be taught at home at early ages that NO One not ANY ONE should touch them at all in any way nor take pictures of any sort unless it is picture day and with their class. Children need to be able to express their thoughts and feelings. They need to be able to go to their parents and speak openly without being critized for their thoughts on issues etc. That saying Children should be seen not heard is on going to this day. it’s not right. Children do have a voice and parents need to listen to what their opinions are. Even if its something we may not like or want to hear . They are human too and have a right to be heard no matter how young they are.. Be a parent first and a friend to your children and let them know they can come to you with anything. Teach your children it is ok to exprees their thoughts and feelings so they do go to you whith everything that happens in their lives. If you keep those lines of communication open with them and not freak out with some things they do tell you they will always come to you for help, advise, assistance etc. Keep the lines of communication with them open always.. Know what your children are doing everyday by asking them. If they start shutting down something is wrong. Be there for them always not only when something is wrong.

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