A Los Angeles teacher accused of taking photographs of children -- some blindfolded in a classroom with tape over their mouths -- was investigated in 1994 for allegedly trying to fondle a 10-year-old girl, according to authorities.
The alleged act occurred in September 1993, but was not reported to officials at Miramonte Elementary School until the following January 1994, said Lt. Carlos Marquez.
The girl claimed the former teacher, 61-year-old Mark Berndt, reached toward her genitals during class, but she pushed away his hands, according to the sheriff's department.
The school notified the sheriff's department, which opened an investigation. Charges were not filed in that case because of insufficient evidence.
"The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigated allegations against Mark Berndt involving a September 1993 incident," the district attorney's office said in a statement. "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."
The school district has launched its own investigation into the current allegations.
Berndt, who worked at Miramonte for more than 30 years, is jailed on $23 million bond. He is accused of felony molestation involving 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010.
He was arrested earlier this week after were notified by a film processing technician of 40 photographs that depicted blindfolded children in a classroom with tape over their mouths. Some images showed the former teacher with his arm around the children or hand over their mouths, according to investigators.
California State Penal Code requires film processors to report suspected child abuse.
About 100 similar photos were found at Berndt's home, according to the sheriff's department. About 250 additional photos were recovered by Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau detectives from the film processing business.