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Mark Berndt Update: Calif. teacher pleads no contest to molesting students

Photo of former Los Angeles teacher Mark Berndt, then 61, who was arrested for felony molestation of 23 kids after photos surfaced. AP Photo/ Los Angeles Sheriff's Department

(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - Former Los Angeles elementary school teacher Mark Berndt, accused of lewd acts with more than 20 former students, pleaded no contest Friday to nearly two dozen charges.

Among the illegal and disturbing behavior the 62-year-old Berndt allegedly displayed, he is accused of blindfolding children and spoon-feeding them cookies laced with his semen in what he called "tasting games."

According to CBS Los Angeles, Berndt is also accused of taking photos of students while they were bound and gagged in his classroom. Some photos reportedly show cockroaches being placed on students' faces.

Berndt entered the legal equivalent of guilty pleas to the charges at a hearing Friday. He had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The agreement was reportedly reached in order to protect his alleged victims from testifying. The deal calls for Berndt to be sentenced to 25 years in prison.

He was initially arrested in January 2012. His crimes allegedly occurred between 2005 and 2010.

Parents filed suit against Los Angeles Unified School District for failing to protect their children from Berndt. Settlements have cost the district tens of millions of dollars.

Complete coverage of Mark Berndt on Crimesider

  • Stephanie Slifer

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