2nd teacher removed from Miramonte Elementary School

The ex-L.A. teacher accused of child molestation was investigated 18 years ago in an alleged attempted fondling case.

February 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A second teacher has been removed from Miramonte Elementary School, the same school where a teacher earlier this week was charged with molestation.

The teacher was removed from contact with children Thursday after someone made some accusations against him, said Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy.

Authorities did not release information about the second teacher, only saying the teacher is under law enforcement investigation. A sheriff's investigator said that teacher has not been arrested or charged.

Mark Berndt, who worked at the school for 30 years, was charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010. Prosecutors say he took photos of his students where they were blindfolded and gagged. In some cases, he allegedly held spoons of semen to their mouths.

News of the second teacher comes a day after authorities acknowledged a 9-year-old girl at the school claimed Berndt tried to fondle her inside a classroom in September 1993.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney says Berndt wasn't charged because there was not enough evidence to prove that a crime had occurred.

There were other reports from 1991 that students noticed that Berndt's hands were often on his lap hidden behind his desk, where he also kept a jar of Vaseline. These observations were relayed to school staff, but students said their stories were not taken seriously.

Berndt, 61, was arrested Monday at his home in Torrance. He remains jailed on $23 million bail and could face life in prison if convicted.

He was removed from the classroom as soon as the investigation started last year. He was fired by the district, but he was able to appeal being fired. He then resigned and therefore retained his lifelong health benefits and pension, which amounts to $3,900 per month. State retirement officials say that cash flow could continue even if Berndt is convicted.

Police said 10 children in the photos have not been identified. The alleged crimes happened between 2005 and 2010.