Southern California -- this just in

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

Lawyer: Teacher brought kids from other classes for 'tasting games'

February 3, 2012 |  1:01 pm

 An attorney representing a student at Miramonte Elementary School said Friday children were pulled from after-school programs and other teachers' classes to take part in "tasting games" at the center of lewd conduct charges against fired teacher Mark Berndt.

In these games, children were photographed while blindfolded and asked to taste a liquid that police now believe to be the semen Berndt, who was arrested Monday.

Attorney Brian E. Claypool said his client was 9 when her photograph was taken by Berndt, although she was not his student.


Claypool said Berndt had two ways of getting children who weren't in his class to participate in his games -- by having them sent to his class during the school day or having them go to his class after school.

"The potential pool of victims is beyond the classroom," Claypool said in a news conference outside the South L.A. campus where Berndt worked for three decades until he was removed last year when district officials learned of the allegations.

District officials have confirmed that not all the students have been identified and that they were not all current students of Berndt.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said there's no doubt some of the alleged victims were participants in an after-school program. He said he did not know if some students had been pulled out of other classes during the school day.

Berndt is in custody with his bail set at $23 million. He was arrested Monday, about a year after the school district officials removed him from class after seeing some of the photos.

In multiple interviews with the media Friday, Claypool accused the district of negligence, asserting that other teachers and staff must have known something about what was going on.

Separately, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department announced Friday the arrest of a second Miramonte teacher for inappropriate conduct.

It was not immediately clear if there was any link to Berndt's case other than officials learned about the allegations involving the second teacher in the wake of the Berndt revelations.


L.A. teacher suspected of lewd conduct keeps benefits

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

Second teacher arrested at L.A. school where Mark Berndt worked

-- Alan Zarembo and Howard Blume