LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Los Angeles elementary school teacher was arrested after he allegedly gagged and made bondage photos of nearly two dozen children — possibly inside a classroom, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.
A department statement said Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested at his Torrance home on Monday and remained jailed Tuesday on $2.3 million bail.
The district attorney’s office said Berndt has been charged with committing lewd acts with 23 boys and girls ages 7 to 10.
Berndt worked for more than 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School in an unincorporated area of south Los Angeles before being fired.
The investigation began when a film processor gave authorities some 40 photographs depicting blindfolded children in a classroom with their mouths taped shut.
Some of the photos showed Berndt with his arm around the children or with his hand over their mouths.
“In addition, the photographs 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. There are also photos of children with large live Madagascar-type cockroaches on their faces and mouths,” the statement said.
A blue plastic spoon and container found in trash in his classroom tested positive for semen, the statement said.