L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Teacher charged with lewd acts allegedly told kids it was 'game'

January 31, 2012 |  9:02 am

Mira

A Miramonte Elementary School teacher who taught for three decades in South L.A. told students they would be playing "a game" before tying them up and feeding them from a spoon possibly containing semen, sources said.

Mark_BerndtMark Berndt, 61, who is charged with lewd acts on 23 children and was taken into custody Monday, told the children the spoon contained something sugary and sweet, but authorities said they believed the substance was his semen, said the sources, who declined to comment on the record because the investigation is ongoing.

Berndt was fired in March and was being held Tuesday on $2.3-million bail.

FULL COVERAGE: Mark Berndt

A spoon recovered from a trash bin in Berndt's classroom is a key piece of evidence, said Capt. Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"Early in the investigation, special victims bureau detectives recovered a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash within the suspect’s classroom," Parker said. "The recovered items tested positive for semen."

Through further investigation, the suspect’s DNA was obtained and tested, and officials said it matched that of the DNA found on the spoon and container.

Berndt's arrest capped a nearly yearlong investigation by the L.A. County sheriff's special victims unit.

The investigation began when a photo processor turned over to authorities pictures of some alleged acts of bondage and the spoon-feeding, officials said.

The 23 alleged victims are both boys and girls and ranged in age from 7 to 10. The crimes occurred between 2008 and 2010, Parker said.

Investigators recovered photos from the processor and Berndt's home that allegedly showed the students bound and blindfolded and some with large Madagascar cockroaches crawling on them inside the school setting, Parker said.

Some girls were allegedly photographed with a blue spoon holding a white substance near their mouths, Parker said.

"Early in the investigation, special victims bureau detectives recovered a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash within the suspect’s classroom," Parker said. "The recovered items tested positive for semen."

Parker said that, so far, 10 children in the photos recovered have not been identified. More than 80 children and staff have been in interviewed. Miramonte Elementary is in the Florence Firestone unincorporated area of Los Angeles County and is within the Los Angeles Unified School District.

RELATED:

Superintendent 'outraged' over charges

Document: Felony complaint against Mark Berndt

Photo store discovered teacher's disturbing images, officials say

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Mark Berndt. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department; The school: Credit: Google

Comments 

Advertisement










Video