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Ex-Miramonte teacher pleads not guilty to lewd acts with students

February 21, 2012 | 11:25 am

Mark Berndt in court Feb. 21Former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nearly two dozen counts of committing lewd acts with his students.

Berndt, 61, was charged last month with 23 counts of lewd acts. The investigation into Berndt began after a pharmacy photo lab technician discovered snapshots in which children were allegedly bound and gagged, and in some, being spoonfed a white liquid that is believed to be Berndt's semen.

In court Tuesday, Berndt was dressed in an orange jumpsuit and appeared unshaven. His public defender, Victor Acevedo, said guards at the jail had been denying his client's request for razors.

FULL COVERAGE: School sex abuse

Berndt is being held in lieu of $23-million bail, although the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said there would be a bail review.

Berndt is set to return to court March 28.

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-- Dalina Castellanos

Photo: Mark Berndt in court Tuesday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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