A former elementary school teacher accused of sexually abusing his students is expected in court on Friday.
Attorneys for the victims believe Mark Berndt will make a plea deal to avoid life in prison, but neither Berndt's attorney nor the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office would comment.
Berndt is accused of nearly two dozen counts of sexually molesting 23 boys and girls ages 7 to 10 from Miramonte Elementary School in the Florence area of Los Angeles between 2005 and 2010, the District Attorney’s Office said. Among the charges were that he allegedly laced cookies with his semen and fed them to children in a classroom tasting game, authorities said.
The case broke in late 2010 after a film processing company contacted police about photos depicting children in a classroom with their eyes blindfolded and tape covering their mouths, prosecutors said. Berndt was arrested Jan. 30, 2012 at his Torrance home.
The case sparked a firestorm of anger among parents who hired attorneys to sue the district accusing officials of failing to protect students. The district settled 61 civil lawsuits last month.
The district announced in September that it was hiring professional investigators to probe cases of suspected abuse of children by teachers.
More Southern California Stories: