Complete Coverage of the ongoing investigation of a South LA elementary school

Ex-Teacher in Miramonte Sex Abuse Case to Appear in Court

Mark Berndt faces sex abuse charges involving students at Miramonte Elementary School.

By Jason Kandel
|  Friday, Nov 15, 2013  |  Updated 12:07 AM PDT
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A former elementary school teacher accused of sexually abusing his students is expected in court on Friday. John Cadiz Klemack reports from Pasadena for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2013.

John Cadiz Klemack

A former elementary school teacher accused of sexually abusing his students is expected in court on Friday. John Cadiz Klemack reports from Pasadena for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2013.

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Teacher Had Been Accused Before

Mark Berndt, the LAUSD teacher accused of lewd conduct, had been investigated in the early 1990s. A former student says her classmates tried to tell the principal in 1990.

Ex-Miramonte Teacher Mark Berndt Hires Defense Attorney

Mark Berndt has hired Manny Medrano, a Harvard-educated prosecutor, journalist and now, defense attorney. Medrano intends to ask the court to reduce the $23 million bail level set for Berndt, accused of lewd conduct against his students. Medrano said he thinks the bail amount is "illegal and unconstitutional." Patrick Healy reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2012.
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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.

Full Coverage: Miramonte Abuse Scandal

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. 

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