Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods
Teachers' Pets
 
 
Update, February 6, 2012: Classes at Miramonte elementary have been cancelled for two days, during which Superintendent John Deasy will meet with parents. The closure comes in the aftermath of the allegations against Mark Berndt (pictured) and another teacher. Four days after Berndt's arrest, another teacher at the school, Martin Springer, 49, was arrested on suspicion of fondling two seven-year-old girls.

January 31, 2012: A former California elementary school teacher is charged with committing lewd acts with 23 young children. Los Angeles County police say Mark Berndt, 61, who taught for 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School, gagged, bound, blindfolded and otherwise abused 23 boys and girls, aged 7 to 10, between 2008 and 2010. A photo lab employee turned over to police more than 40 pictures that Berndt allegedly took of the children. According to a statement issued by the Sheriff's Department, the photos depicted the children, possibly in a classroom, tied up, blindfolded and gagged. In some of the photos, the children have cockroaches on their face, while in others, girls are seen with a spoon containing a white substance near their mouths, the statement said. A spoon similar to the one seen in the photo was found in Berndt's classroom garbage can, and, according to the statement, it tested positive for semen. Still in other photos, children were seen eating a cookie containing the same white substance, KTTV Fox 11 News reports.

When the investigation began, Berndt was immediately fired from the school. Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau investigators are working to identify more victims. If convicted on all 23 felony counts, Berndt could face life in prison. He is currently being held on $2,300,000 bail.
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