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Abuse allegation against 2nd teacher at L.A. school, source says

February 3, 2012 |  8:47 am
A second teacher was removed from campus Thursday morning at the Los Angeles school where Mark Berndt, accused child abuser, taught. School officials reported an abuse allegation by a student against the second educator to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, according to a source familiar with the case.
Investigators are just beginning to look into the matter and stressed they are still trying to corroborate the allegation, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing.

Authorities have released few details. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said that the special victims' unit, which handles crimes of sexual abuse, is looking into allegations against the Miramonte Elementary School teacher.

It's also unclear if the case is related to Berndt, a veteran teacher at the school who was arrested and charged with acts of lewd conduct involving 23 students earlier this week.

FULL COVERAGE: Mark Berndt

“A new allegation came to our attention yesterday, and we referred the allegation to the sheriff,” said Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy. “We removed the teacher from the classroom and the matter is being investigated, like when any matter comes to our attention.

“There is no determination from the authorities, and the person could be completely innocent.”

He said the name of the teacher would not be released, and the teacher is “housed,” meaning reassigned to a site where there are no students, typically a district office.

In the Berndt case, investigators said they have photographs of current and former students blindfolded and being spoon-fed a substance believed to be Berndt's semen.

Officials revealed Thursday that Berndt had been the target of a police investigation 18 years ago when a female student reported that he had tried to fondle her, authorities said.

The alleged incident occurred in September 1993, though officials said the girl did not tell her mother about it until four months later, after seeing an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that explained the difference between "good touches" and "bad touches."

The mother informed school administrators, who notified the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. The department turned over the case to the district attorney in February 1994, but prosecutors dropped the matter after determining "that the evidence was insufficient to prove a crime occurred," they said in a written statement Thursday.

RELATED:

L.A. teacher suspected of lewd conduct keeps benefits

Evidence was insufficient to charge teacher in '94, D.A. says

Miramonte teacher investigated in '94 after girl saw 'Oprah' show

-- Richard Winton and Howard Blume

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