Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mark Berndt Was Investigated in 1993

Mark Berndt

For those of you in the Los Angeles area, you might have heard about the recent arrest Monday of elementary school teacher Mark Berndt. Berndt, 61, a teacher with over 30 years experience at Miramonte Elementary School, has been charged with molesting 23 children.

Sandi Gibbons, Director of Communications at the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office released the following statement.

Statement by Sandi Gibbons
Director Communications
Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigated allegations against Mark Berndt involving a September 1993 incident. On Feb. 23, 1994, the evidence was presented to the District Attorney’s Office. After careful evaluation, it was determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove a crime occurred.

All District Attorneys in California follow uniform standards in filing criminal cases. A prosecutor cannot ethically file criminal charges if the evidence fails to meet the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Berndt was an elementary teacher with the Los Angeles County Unified School District (LAUSD). According to The Huff Post, an online newspaper:

On Monday, Berndt was arrested on allegations that he bound and gagged students at Miramonte Elementary School, placed live cockroaches on their faces and fed them his own semen on spoons and in cookies.

His habit of photographing what the children described as a "game" is what aroused the suspicions of a photo technician at a Redondo Beach CVS, who turned the pictures over to Redondo Beach police in the fall of 2010. By December, the case was being investigated by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, and by January 2011, Mark Berndt was out of the classroom.

So Mark Berndt was on the LAUSD's radar back in 1993, but the DA's office did not have enough evidence at the time to move forward with a prosecution. It will be interesting to see how many more children come forward with allegations of abuse.

Daily Breeze article

LA Weekly article

LA Times NOW Blog


CaliGirl9 said...

He's going to be a real popular guy in prison... sometimes it's really sad that the burden of proof in cases like this is so high. Suspicion of child abuse should be enough to have special oversight with people like this. He got away with 18 more years of child abuse.

Can't wait to see how many victims come forward, and just how much will this cost the LAUSD. I wonder if the courts will find the school district not liable because there had been no crime proven back in '93—innocent until proven guilty.

Anonymous said...

It is getting to the point where everything that happens in school is going to have to be videotaped and recorded on a daily basis.

Why is the LAUSD so powerless? Is it because the teacher's unions are so strong that it prevents removing both dangerous and inept teachers from the classroom?

If I had young children today, I would definately be home schooling them.

NancyB said...

I understand that the DA did not have enough evidence to indict but I have trouble understanding why the school system was unable to terminate him on a morals clause. Maybe the unions are so powerful that option also was not doable. However, I find it unacceptable and very troubling that he was not monitored very closely after the first victim came forward. Something is very wrong in our society where a perve like this has more protections than innocent and very vulnerable children. I also am furious that his healthcare benefits for life along with his $4000/month pension remain intact. Oh, and God Bless that CVS technician.

Anonymous said...

Pray that God enlightens his soul with love and goodness!!!!