Second Ca Teacher Arrested For Lewd Acts

, Posted: Sat, February 4 2012 at 4:56 PM, Updated: Sat, February 4 2012 at 5:53 PM

This is 61 year old Mark Berndt. An elementary school teacher accused of taking bondage photos in his classroom of more than two dozen boys and girls between 7 and 10 years of age.

On Friday, Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators arrested a second teacher, 49 year old Martin Bernard Springer, a colleague of Berndt's.

Capt. Mike Parker, of the Los Angeles Co. Sheriff's Dept, said "Two girls were fondled in the classroom. they were 7 yrs old - it happened in the past three years."

At this point in the investigation, officials could not say if there was a relationship or connection between the Berndt and springer but both men taught at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles, a low income area which is 98% Latino. Parents at the school are outraged that they are just learning about the sex crime allegations.

"I am angry. I am disgusted and I am sad."

Investigators say the case against Berndt broke in 2010 when a film processor noticed disturbing images of Berndt with "his arm around the children, or his hand over their mouths" others showed the "children with their eyes blind folded and mouths covered with tape," some depicted children with "Madagascar type cockroaches on their faces."

"The children felt this was a game, they didn't realize they were victimized they thought they were being blindfolded and gagged as a game." said Sgt. Dan Scott of the Los Angeles Co. Sheriff's Dept. Special Victims Unit.

Detectives discovered 400 photos - some showed children with spoons at their mouths filled with semen... Which they believed was liquid candy. They recovered a plastic spoon and empty container from the suspect's classroom, tested the contents and found a match to Berndt's DNA. So far, twenty-three victims have been identified.

"There's at least ten children we have not been able to identify obviously we can't put their pictures out because they are potential victims." said Sgt. Dan Scott of the Los Angeles Co. Sheriff's Dept. Special Victims Unit.

Berndt had taught at Miramonte for 30 years.

Gloria Polanko has two children in the school says she wants to know why - if the bondage photos were brought to the attention of authorities back in October of 2010, why Berndt was allowed to remain in the classroom for 3 months - until school officials finally removed him in January of 2011. Los Angeles school superintendent, John Deasay says the school district acted as quickly as it could.

Supt. John Deasy, of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said"The police were very clear that we were not to be involved in the the investigation and we followed everything to the letter of the law that they directed us to do. i believe in the end this is why they collected the evidence."

Polanko says if these crimes had been committed in another area where there are anglos - like Beverly Hills or Santa Monica this would have been handled differently.

She says news of the two arrests has shaken their trust in the school and now some parents are talking about pulling their children out of Miramonte Elementary School for good.

Berndt is being held on $23-million bail and his public defender has not spoken to reporters about the case. Police say Springer is being held on $2-mill bail although no charges have been filed.

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