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Bondage, abuse photos of school kids lead to firing, arrest of So. Calif. teacher, report says

Miramonte Elementary School
CBS/Los Angeles Union School District
(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - A Southland elementary school teacher was arrested after 40 photos depicting blindfolded and gagged children were given to authorities by a film processor.

The Los Angeles Times reports 61-year-old Mark Berndt allegedly gagged and made bondage photos of nearly two-dozen children - possibly inside a classroom. In some cases, the children are shown with large Madagascar cockroaches crawling on them at the MIramonte Elementary School.

CBS Los Angeles reports some of the photos allegedly depict Berndt holding a substance that resembles human semen up to the mouths of female students as if they were about to swallow it.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says Berndt was arrested at his Torrance home on Monday. He was in jail Tuesday on $2.3 million bail.

He has been charged with committing lewd acts with 23 boys and girls ages 7 to 10, who had contact with Berndt between 2008 and 2010.

Berndt worked for more than 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School in an unincorporated area of south Los Angeles. He was fired last year, according to LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy,although no student ever came forward to report the abuse.

"The day that it was brought to my attention we removed him from his assignment," Deasy said. We fired him that week."

Deasy said there was overwhelming evidence to justify letting Berndt go.

"We fired him on the spot on the evidence of the photographs, not where it happened," he said. "It makes no difference to me where it happened, it happened."

Students who were allegedly victimized by the teacher have been given "psychological support" and guidance counseling over the course of the last year, Deasy said.

More than 80 children and staff were interviewed.



  • Crimesider Staff

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