Ex-Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt to appear in court in abuse case
Berndt pleaded not guilty last month to 23 counts of lewd acts against children. Among other charges, the former teacher at the Florence-Firestone school is accused of telling his students they were going to play a "tasting game," in which they were blindfolded and in some cases gagged with tape, authorities say.
Berndt also is accused of placing a three-inch-long Madagascar cockroach on his students' faces and mouths.
The alleged victims were boys and girls ages 7 to 10. The acts allegedly occurred from 2005 to 2010.
Following Berndt’s arrest, a second Miramonte teacher, 49-year-old Martin Bernard Springer, was accused of lewd acts against children, and Los Angeles Unified School District officials closed the school for two days while they revamped its staff.
The case set off a media frenzy, but at his client’s arraignment, Berndt’s attorney Victor Acevedo urged the public to withhold judgment until all the facts in the case were in.
-- Matt Stevens
Photo: Mark Berndt in court in February. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times