Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mark Berndt: Teacher Accused of Playing Sex Games with Kids

The Past is Never Dead

In January 1994 Mark Berndt was investigated for allegedly trying to molest a ten or 11-year-old girl, but charges were never filed.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Sgt. Dan Scott says that Berndt allegedly attempted to fondle the girl over her clothing that year. The district attorney's office rejected the case based on lack of evidence.

Maria Trujillo, now 30 and working as a paralegal, has come forward to tell the press that she was among a group of girls pulled before a counselor when a female classmate complained about Berndt's advances that year. But in the end the staff just chastised the girls and told them not to make up stories about their teacher, and apparently no further action was taken.

Trujillo has told the Los Angeles Times that Berndt often seemed to be fiddling with his hands in his lap under his desk. Students believed he was masturbating, and they regarded with suspicion the jar of Vaseline he kept at his desk. Still, Trujillo had thought he was a good teacher, and she recalls that he'd bought her snack cakes and that even after she moved on to other teachers' classes, he'd sent her Christmas cards and Beach Boys tapes.

More details and allegations may come out as the investigation against Mark Berndt continues. There are already whispers that a female teacher routed pretty girls to Berndt's classes. And more ex-students are bringing lawsuits against him and the school district.

In addition to the students that Brian Claypool and David Owen are representing, Luis A. Carrillo is representing nine victims in pending cases against Berndt, and David Ring is represents additional students.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's office is still taking information at specialvictims@lasd.org and (866) 247-5877 or (877) 710-5273.

 


In November 2013 Mark Berndt was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading no contest to the charges against him. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

 

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