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Judge refuses to lower $23-million bail for former Miramonte teacher

BerndtA Los Angeles County Superior Court judge denied a motion Wednesday to reduce the $23-million bail for former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who is accused of gagging, blindfolding and feeding semen to unsuspecting students.

Berndt, who remains behind bars, appeared in court as the judge transferred his case to the downtown criminal courthouse, where Berndt is scheduled to appear May 1 for a preliminary hearing.

Berndt pleaded not guilty last month to 23 counts of lewd acts against children. Among other charges, he is accused of placing a three-inch-long Madagascar cockroach on his students' faces and mouths.

After court, Berndt's attorney, Victor Acevedo, said he was concerned for the safety of his client.

"He has been the subject of harassment by fellow inmates," Acevedo said. 

The alleged victims were boys and girls ages 7 to 10. The acts allegedly occurred from 2005 to 2010.


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Photo: Mark Berndt, right, the former Miramonte Elementary teacher facing 23 counts of lewd acts against children, consults with attorney Victor Acevedo during Berndt's earlier arraignment at L.A. County Superior Court. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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