Mark Berndt, a long time Los Angeles Unified School District teacher was just arrested and charged with multiple sex offenses against his students. The allegations include that he gagged the students, blindfolded them and fed them his own semen with a spoon. Witness statements indicate that the conduct had been ongoing for over ten years.
The investigation began in late 2010 after a photo technician called the police when he was asked to process some disturbing images depicting children. In January of 2011, the School District suspended Berndt and later fired him.
He was arraigned yesterday after being charged with 23 counts of lewd acts with a child under 14 in violation of California Penal Code Section 288. The charges date back to 2005. If convicted of all counts he would certainly spend the remainder of his life in prison.
The problem with the case, according the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials is that the child victims are very difficult to to identify. Sheriff’s officials recovered hundreds of photos depicting children during the alleged sexual abuse. Some of the victims had their faces covered with blindfolds or other items, making their individual identification very difficult for investigators.
The future does look very dark for Mr. Berndt who remains in custody with bail set at $23 million dollars. However, offensive sex offenses can be devastating things. This case reminds me of the tragic case of the McMartin Preschool. Some twenty years ago allegations surfaced that employees of a small South Bay preschool were sexually assaulting their students. The school later closed, the lives of several people were ruined and some years later, the defendants in that case were found not guilty. Please remember that in this country we are all innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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