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Miramonte teacher accused of lewd conduct goes to court

February 21, 2012 |  5:16 am

Miramonte Elementary School

Mark Berndt, the Miramonte Elementary School teacher accused of lewd acts against children in his classroom, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Prosecutors have charged Berndt with 23 counts of lewd acts against students.

Berndt was arrested after officials said they discovered photographs of students gagged and blindfolded, some allegedly tasting his semen from a spoon. Investigators are continuing to look into additional allegations against Berndt.

Civil attorneys also plan to file lawsuits against the Los Angeles Unified School District on behalf of at least 60 alleged victims.

Those attorneys are making additional accusations about Berndt that are not contained in the original criminal charges, including claims -- repeated last week when two alleged victims went on the "Dr. Phil" show -- that Berndt fed students cookies with semen on them.

"What was your cookie like?" Phil McGraw, the show's host, asked one young girl.

"It had something like saliva, and it was like slimy," replied the girl, whose face was not shown. She also said Berndt "shook her hard" when she told him she did not want to eat the cookie.

L.A. County Sheriff's Department officials say that although they suspect Berndt fed students his semen, they have no evidence to prove he gave them the so-called semen cookies.

Last week, one attorney suggested that another teacher at Miramonte was involved in the Berndt case. The department took the unusual step of publicly stating that the teacher was not a suspect in the case.

Berndt's attorney has declined requests to discuss the case.

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-- Richard Winton and Howard Blume

Photo: A teacher newly assigned to Miramonte Elementary leads her students out to recess. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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