Children sitting in a classroom with large cockroaches on their faces, and participating in bondage style sexual activities - these were just some the photographic images that Los Angeles sex abuse lawyers have now learned were taken by a teacher in Los Angeles.
The teacher, Mark Berndt was a former teacher at the Miramonte Elementary School, a part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The school is in a poor neighborhood in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. Berndt has been arrested at his home in Torrance, and has been charged with child sex abuse crimes. He is being held on a $2.3 million bail.
According to the investigators, they were first alerted to the abuse when a film processor turned over close to 40 photographs depicting children in different horrifying, abusive situations. Investigators then began the probe which led to the arrest of Berndt, a 30-year veteran of the Miramonte Elementary School.
Investigations of his classroom turned up more than 390 photographs of children in varying positions. In some of the photographs, Berndt is depicted sitting with his arm around the children, or having his hand on their mouths.
In other pictures, girls are shown with a spoon containing what is later found to be semen, held near their lips. Investigators have interviewed many of the children who were allegedly abused, and they have confirmed that they were forced to drink something from plastic spoons. DNA tests on containers retrieved from the classroom have found that these contained semen. The children were also made to ingest semen on cookies.
Many of the children who are believed to have been abused came from other classes. Investigators believe that Berndt would seek out children during recess hour or lunch hour, when he would lure children from other classes into his classroom.