US teacher denies abuse in semen case

2012-02-22 16:00

kalahari.com

  • Child Abuse
    Provides readers with a wealth of information on topics of current interest. Now R526.95
    buy now
Los Angeles - A former US teacher pleaded not guilty to lewd acts with children on Tuesday for allegedly photographing blindfolded students with cockroaches on their faces, and spoons of semen to their mouths.

Mark Berndt's lawyer added that the 61-year-old was at risk of harm in prison, with "a bull's eye on his head" after fellow inmates were told about his alleged crimes and his location.

Berndt, who taught for more than 30 years at an elementary school in east Los Angeles, denied multiple charges of committing lewd acts on nearly two dozen children aged between seven and 10 years old at the time.

He remains in jail in lieu of $23m bail - and his lawyer lashed out at what he said were actions which put his client at risk from other prisoners.

"The sheriff's department in Twin Towers [prison], which is where my client is currently housed, has essentially used the speaker system, the loud speaker system, to identify him as a child molester to other inmates," he said.

"We cannot have the sheriff's department deputies acting in such a way to essentially put a bull's eye on his head, so to speak... My understanding is that it did name the particular dorm where he was at," he added.

Hand over mouth

Berndt was removed from teaching duty as soon as the allegations surfaced in January 2011, after more than 40 photos of children in a classroom, with blindfolds and tape covering their mouths, were reported by a film processor.

The teacher had his arm around the children or a hand over their mouths, according to a statement by the LA Sheriff's Department.

Some of the photos "depicted girls with what appeared to be a blue plastic spoon, filled with an unknown clear/white liquid substance, up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance", it said.

DNA tests concluded the substance was Berndt's semen. "There are also photos of children with large live Madagascar-type cockroaches on their faces and mouths," said the statement.

More than 100 similar photos were found at his home, while police also recovered "a DVD of film depicting adult sexual bondage activity which mirrored the bondage-type photos of the children".

Entire staff replaced

Sheriff Department spokesperson Dan Scott said detectives later found about 250 other photos at the film-processing business. More than 26 children were identified in 390 photos, but about 10 have not been identified.

More than 80 current and former students and school employees were interviewed during the investigation, while the entire staff of the school was replaced.

Berndt's lawyer said he was concerned for his client's safety.

"Anyone accused of these charges who is in the custody of the sheriff's department always runs the risk of their personal safety, for obvious reasons," he said.

Berndt is due back in court on March 28, when a date will be set for a hearing to decide if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial. He could face life in jail if convicted.

- SAPA

Read more on:    us  |  child abuse
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Goodwood - 09:41 AM
    Road name: N7 Vanguard Drive Southbound
    DELAYS approaching Voortrekker Road
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 09:40 AM
    Road name: N1 Inbound
    DELAYS between Lower Church Street and the Waterfront exit via the Elevated Freeway
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Ace

A sleek combination of technology and sophisticated design, the Samsung...

From R1695.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.