A former teacher accused of inappropriately touching a student at Miramonte Elementary School appeared in court, where a judge said Martin Springer no longer needs to wear a GPS ankle monitor. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013.
A judge Wednesday told one of two teachers accused in an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse at Miramonte Elementary School that he is no longer required to wear a GPS monitor on his ankle.
Martin Springer is accused of improperly touching a student three years ago at the Florence area school. He has been free on bail, but was required to wear the GPS monitor -- until Wednesday's order from the judge in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
"The judge looked at what the case was about and believed that putting the restrictions that he did was good enough, at this point," said defense attorney John Tyre.
Springer, arrested in February 2012 on suspicion of committing lewd acts with two children, was ordered to stay at least 500 feet from schools and parks where children gather. One of the accusers has since recanted the accusation.
Springer's arrest came after fellow Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was arrested in connection with photos of students that authorities said depicted children with blindfolds over their eyes Some of the children had spoons of semen held to their mouths as part of what Berndt allegedly called "tasting games."
Their arrests came within the same week, but no connection has been established between the two teachers. Berndt is charged with committing lewd acts against 23 students and remains in custody.
In a motion filed to dismiss the case against Springer, defense attorneys call the case a "witch hunt." The accuser began the school year in Berndt's third-grade classroom, but a parent requested a transfer after seeing the student in pictures that are part of the Berndt investigation, according to testimony during Springer's preliminary hearing.
The student, who was transferred to Springer's classroom, claims the alleged touching occurred in his classroom. The defense claims the touching was not sexual.
"There's a lot of contradiction in things that were said," Tyre said. "And, I believe, when you look at that it makes the evidence somewhat questionable at best."
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board voted unanimously to dismiss Springer. As for Berndt, he was suspended in February 2011 and notified of his pending termination.
Springer is scheduled to return to court in March for a hearing on the motion to dismiss. The case against Berndt has yet to reach the preliminary hearing phase.
The allegations led to a two-day shutdown and re-staffing of Miramonte Elementary School, lawsuits against the Los Angeles Unified School District and a bill to expedite the disciplinary review process for teachers accused of sexual abuse. The bill failed to pass the Assembly Education Committee in June.
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