Patrick Healy/Kristopher Li
A judge has dismissed the case against former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Martin Springer, who was charged with three counts of committing lewd acts on a child. Patrick Healy reports from Alhambra for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014.
The case against one of two former Miramonte Elementary School teachers accused in a sexual abuse scandal has been dismissed after an accuser decided not to provide testimony considered "essential" to the case, according to prosecutors.
The case against Martin Bernard Springer was dropped, but prosecutors reserved the right to re-file charges, a court official told NBC4. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office was "unable to proceed because the victim does not want to testify," the office said in a statement.
"When a child tells you she is traumatized by the process, we are not going to force her to come in and testify," said Alison Meyers, deputy district attorney.
Springer was arrested in February 2012 after two girls -- one of whom earlier recanted the accusation -- claimed he fondled them in the Florence-area school. He was charged with three felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14.
The accusation involved Springer allegedly placing a hand on the girl when he kneeled to speak with her.
Springer has been free on bail. A preliminary hearing in Springer's case had been scheduled for Feb. 16, but the accuser "was very traumatized with the experience of testifying in court," according to the district attorney's office.
Springer's arrest came after fellow Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was arrested in connection with the sex abuse scandal.
Springer's attorney John Tyre said his client was caught up in the web of Berdnt's case.
"It was like a tornado was spinning, and things close to it were swallowed up," Tyre said.
Their arrests came within the same week, but no connection was established between the two teachers, investigators said. Berndt entered a no-contest plea and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The no-contest plea avoided a trial in the Berndt case, which would have included testimony from accusers who were 7 to 10 years old at the time of the allegations.
Berndt was being held on some two dozen charges, including an allegation that he laced cookies with his semen and fed them to children.
In November 2013, a judge approved $30 million in damages to the families of 63 children, six of them alleging they had been victimized by Springer.
School district officials say they still want to fire Srpinger.
"We hold our employees to a different standard of professional behavior and we expect more out of them," said Sean Rossall, an LAUSD spokesman.
Springer has requested an administrative hearing to fight his firing, which is scheduled for May.
A trial is due to begin in April for dozens of unsettled civil suits demanding the school district pay for the alleged misconduct of Springer and Berndt.