Two teachers at Los Angeles’ Miramonte Elementary School, Mark Berndt and Martin Springer, have been arrested on child molestion and lewd acts charges, and every adult staffer, 150 of them, have been put on leave while administrators try to sort out who is a child predator, who is not, and who knew of child predator activities on the premises. The school is shut down for two days. Substitute teachers will be in the classroom. To show the depth of the depravity, Mark Berndt allegedly blindfolded students and fed them his own semen by spoon and spread it on cookies. It was a game, the students were told. He took photos of the “tasting” game. Reportedly, some photos were posted ON A SCHOOL BULLETIN BOARD, INSIDE Miramonte, perhaps in the offender’s classroom. Â See the video below.
The firestorm at Miramonte started last week with teacher Mark Berndt’s arrest. He’s accused of abusing at least 23 children and came under investigation after a film processing clerk notified authorities about some disturbing pictures Berndt had dropped off. His arraignment hearing was postponed to February 21.
Another longtime teacher, Martin Springer, was arrested Friday on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom. Prosecutors charged Springer Tuesday with committing lewd-acts upon one girl in 2009. Source Fox News.
Martin Springer, 49, was charged yesterday with three felony counts of lewd acts. Two students have made claims. The charges are related to only one student. Springer is out on $300,000 bail and is wearing a GPS device.
The photos were apparently taken in Berndt’s classroom. The teacher frequently kept his door locked, which was against school policy, but not an uncommon practice among teachers who want to limit interruptions.
The alleged victims, photographed one at a time, apparently included his current and former students and possibly some he’d never taught. Berndt allegedly put the substance around the mouth of a child and asked the child to lick it off his or her lips…
The cache of 400 photos being reviewed by authorities includes head shots or pictures of smiling children and other more disturbing images of children gagged or blindfolded or both, according to sources who have seen them.
All of the children were fully clothed in the pictures. Some included disturbing images of children with a spoon near their faces; in the spoon was a milky liquid.
From the Complaint, in each of the 23 counts, are these words:
…a Felony, was committed by MARK BERNDT, who did willfully, unlawfully, and lewdly commit a lewd and lascivious act upon and with the body and certain parts and members thereof of [redacted name] a child under the age of fourteen years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, and gratifying the lust, passions, and sexual desires of the said defendant and the said child.
According to a Sheriff’s detective, cookies were also smeared with the semen and given to these poor children. Spoons in the classroom were tested and Berndt’s semen was confirmed through DNA testing. Some of the photos were sold online. Authorities began investigating Berndt, 61, in January 2011. The School Board was notified on January 7, 2011 and Berndt was dismissed immediately. Twenty-three children are believed to been a target of his perversion.
Like most child predators, Mark Berndt endeared himself to the students and their parents.Â
“Parents loved him,” said the district source who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak. “But the investigators felt the relationship was unnaturally close to the children.”
The mother of the 10-year-old said she he had heard rumors throughout the year about pictures he’d taken but didn’t believe there was anything to it until she heard about the arrest. She and the other women around her were struggling to make sense of the arrest of a man they all knew.
There is no claim that every adult in the school knew of these abuses or took part in them. All temporarily dismissed will be paid as the investigation goes forward. Some parents believe removing “every adult” will harm the students more than help. If my child was in that school, I would want everyone gone until I knew exactly who knew, and what they knew. Photos posted inside the school, and no one else knew? No child ever objected or told strange stories to other teachers? Caution is the better part of safety for the children.
Miramonte Elementary School Report: Child Predators Arrested (video)