Second Miramonte Elementary Teacher Remains in Custody
Investigators have found an additional 200 bondage-type photos of children allegedly taken by a teacher.
KTLA News February 9, 2012 LOS ANGELES
Miramonte Elementary School reopened on Thursday with completely new staff, in the wake of the arrests of two teachers last week on child sex abuse charges.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said the idea behind the “clean sweep” is to re-build confidence among the many families who have lost faith in the school in the wake of the sex scandal…..
Meantime, at least two dozen students at Miramonte Elementary have retained attorneys so far.
The children allege they were victimized by teacher Mark Berndt, who was arrested last week and charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct.
Investigators have uncovered an additional 200 bondage-type photos of children allegedly taken by Berndt, who worked at the school for more than 30 years.
The pictures were found inside a computer at the Redondo Beach CVS store where the original photos implicating Berndt were found, Sgt. Dan Scott told KTLA.
Scott says the photos show about 25 victims that haven’t been identified yet….
The new pictures bring the total number of photos to roughly 600.
Authorities said the Berndt case could involve more than 100 children over five years.
Berndt is being held on $23 million bail and is due in court for an arraignment on Feb. 21.
KTLA spoke to a 10-year-old girl who said she was sexually abused by Berndt.
The girl said Berndt — who was not her teacher — would contact her female teacher and ask for the her to be sent to his classroom to “get cookies during class.”
“Mr. Berndt, he called my teacher and (asked) if he could borrow some students,” the girl said in the interview.
The girl said Berndt would always pick the same group of students. He gave her cookies, she said, and told her female teacher the girl had “been helping a lot.”….
Scott told KTLA that investigators have interviewed the female teacher and that, “we are satisfied with her answers she’s provided us. She is definitely not a suspect. I can’t predict what will happen in the future.”….
The Berndt case in particular has raised questions about whether the school properly handled misconduct issues in the past.
Authorities have acknowledged that a 10-year-old girl claimed Berndt tried to fondle her in 1994.
Sheriff’s detectives investigated the allegation, but the district attorney’s office rejected the case, saying there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
Additionally, two women, who are now adults, said school officials investigated rumors about Berndt back in 1990.
One of the girls told the Los Angeles Times that a counselor told her and two other girls to stop inventing stories after a complaint that Berndt appeared to be masturbating behind his desk.
In another instance, a woman who discovered love-letters written by a Miramonte teacher’s aide to her 11-year-old son was not taken seriously….
And in 2005, Richard Guevara, a former teacher’s aide at Miramonte Early Education Center, was convicted of committing lewd acts with children.
He had been investigated for improper behavior as far back as 1995, but it was a case from 2003 that led to his conviction.
In that case, Guevara received a sentenced of 15 years to life in prison.