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Ex-Miramonte school teacher to face trial on molestation charges

Mark Berndt and Martin SpringerFormer Miramonte Elementary School teacher Martin Bernard Springer must stand trial on three counts of child molestation for allegedly inappropriately touching a girl, a judge has ruled.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dorothy B. Reyes on Thursday rejected a motion from Springer's attorney, who compared the case to a witch hunt, to dismiss the three felony counts of committing lewd acts upon a child.

Springer, 50, of Alhambra, is due back in court Oct. 11. His lawyer has insisted that Springer has been swept up in a scandal involving another teacher at the school as parents and school administrators fears escalated.

PHOTOS: Sex abuse charges spark parent uproar

Springer (shown above at right) was arrested initially in February in connection with molesting two girls, but prosecutors opted to file in only one of the cases. That same month, he was terminated by the Los Angeles Unified School District after teaching at Miramonte for 25 years.

The second-grade teacher was arrested three days after L.A. prosecutors accused former teacher Mark Berndt (shown above at left) of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded children.

The charges against Springer, a second-grade teacher from Alhambra, come from two students he allegedly touched improperly within the last three years, though the charges announced Tuesday relate to only  one of his alleged victims. Springer faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

FULL COVERAGE: Teacher sex-abuse investigation

The girl was allegedly fondled in the classroom at Miramonte by Springer, according to investigators.

Springer, like Berndt, had worked his entire teaching career at Miramonte. Berndt, a Torrance resident, began working as a teacher there in 1979, Springer in 1986.

As the scandal unfolded, L.A. Unified transferred the entire staff of Miramonte and closed the elementary school for two days to bring in replacement educators after parents kept students home following the arrests.

Miramonte, in the unincorporated Florence-Firestone neighborhood, is one of the nation's largest elementary schools, with about 1,500 students. Its teachers work varying schedules at the year-round campus, but Berndt and Springer knew each other.

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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Mark Berndt and Martin Springer. Credit: L.A. County Sheriff's Department

 
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