Dr. Phil interviews Miramonte students about lewd conduct case
Two former students of accused Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt will appear in a taped segment on the "Dr. Phil" television show Thursday afternoon, describing the suspect's alleged efforts to feed them cookies believed to be covered with semen.
In an interview with the show's host, psychologist Phil McGraw, one of the students said he told Berndt he did not want to eat the cookies. Another student said Berndt shook her shoulders, which scared her, according to a brief video promoting the show on the Dr. Phil website.
Berndt is charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children.
The Miramonte community was rocked by the Jan. 30 arrest of Berndt, 61, who is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded students in his classroom as part of what he allegedly called "tasting games." Days later, second-grade teacher Martin Springer was pulled from his Miramonte classroom and then arrested the next day. He is charged with fondling a former student.
The Los Angeles Unified School District took extreme measures to bring order back to the Miramonte campus, replacing the school's entire staff.
Following Berndt's arrest and a two-day closure, attendance at Miramonte dipped to 68% on Feb. 9, when the school reopened with a new staff. Attendance has since improved.
-- Kimi Yoshino