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Teacher Arrested for Taking Bondage Shoot of Kindergarteners
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It took over of year in preparation, but Mark Berndt, a teacher for 30 years, has been arrested on over 23 felony counts of lewd acts on a child, including photographing 23 children in gags and blindfolds, some posed with a cockroach on their faces, others posed with a spoon full of his semen in their mouths.

Berndt, who taught at Miramonte Elementary, Los Angeles, reportedly had fondled a girl in 1994, but the district attorney’s office filed no charges, due to insufficient evidence; and former student Marlene Trujillo has recently reported that she had told her counselor that Berndt appeared to be masturbating behind his desk, but the counselor scolded her and her friends to stop making up stories. This time, authorities took exacting measures to make sure the charges stuck. Though the photographs of the students were found and reported back in October 2010, when a CVS photo clerk in Los Angeles told Redondo police of the disturbing photos, it took a year for police to prepare their investigation. After Redondo police confirmed the pictures looked criminal and that they appeared to have been taken in Berndt’s classroom, they passed the case to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

“Immediately, our detective assigned to the case contacted school officials about our investigation, but we learned that students were off track and would not be returning until January 3rd,” said Los Angeles Country Sherriff’s Sgt. Dan Scott.

  
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On January 3, investigators separated the students from the teacher and asked delicate questions to get some ideas about Berndt. Berndt, meanwhile, exercised his right to silence.

Investigators were especially interested in finding a blue spoon, the prop from the photographs they suspected had been filled with Berndt’s Semen.

“Beneath a classroom trash bin, our detective found a blue spoon and container similar to the one depicted in the photos,” Scott said. “We suspect those items were probably deliberately placed at the bottom of the trash bin.”

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It took seven months for criminal labs to identify the sample on the spoon as semen, and another seven months to match Berndt’s DNA to the semen on the spoon. Berndt was not charged until last Tuesday, long after his photos had raised suspicions, but Scott said “We always had our eye on him and there was never a chance he would get away form us.”

Of the 23 victimized children, 10 have not been identified or located. Those who have been located and questioned seemed to not realize they were victimized.



“They thought they were being blindfolded and gagged as a game,” said Scott. “And they were rewarded with cookies or spoons full of ‘sugar.’ They did not realize the spoon contained semen.”

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy conducted his own internal investigation to answer the troubling question of how Berndt could escape any notice for such lewd conduct not only for years, but decades. “How do I make sense of the fact that this took place over a number of years and no one seemed to know about that?” Deasy said.

Berndt’s arraignment is set for February 21.



 

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