Ongoing coverage of child abuse in schools

New Photos in Miramonte Sex Abuse Case: Prosecutors

District Attorney's office still working to identify students in pictures

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Accused Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt was back in court Wednesday as the court tried to decide whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed. The judge refused to reduce bail, nor order prosecutors to turn over more photos of children. NBC4's Antonio Castelan reports Berndt's attorney is also concerned about his treatment in jail.

    Prosecutors building a case against Mark Berndt, the former Miramonte Elementary School teacher accused of lewd acts involving at least 20 children, said Wednesday they are still going through "a lot" of photos and working to identify new potential victims.

    Full Coverage: Case Timeline | About Miramonte Elementary

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    61 year old Mark Berndt enters plea in court today. He remains jailed on 23 million dollars bail and his lawyer is worried his life might be in danger.

    "There are a lot of photographs where the children have not been identified and that is still under investigation," said Sandi Gibbons, Los Angeles County District Attorney's office spokeswoman.

    During Wednesday's court hearing downtown, Berndt's attorney, Victor Acevedo, asked for copies of the photos, but a judge denied the request.

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    The "rubber room" is where teachers accused of everything from drug abuse to sexual harassment are sent to do nothing, but still collect their salaries, benefits and accrue time toward pensions.

    Acevedo also asked the judge to lower Berndt's bond from $23 million to $1 million. The judge denied the request, saying the defendant is still a danger to the public and victims, who are dealing with emotional trauma.

    "I'm really disappointed that unfortunately we didn't get even somewhere near what I would consider to be reasonable under the circumstances," Acevedo said.

    A preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 1.

    Outside of court, Berndt's attorney said his client is being harassed in jail and officials are turning a blind eye to the abuse.

    "My understanding is that some of the issues of harassment at the hands of other inmates have been under the watchful eyes of some deputies who haven't done anything," Acevedo said.

    Berndt, 61, was arrested Jan. 31 on suspicion of felony molestation with 23 children ages 6 to 10 years old. The former teacher allegedly blindfolded students, placed roaches on their faces and dangled spoons filled with semen near their mouths, according to prosecutors.

    He has pleaded not guilty in the case.

    Ongoing Coverage: Miramonte School Investigation | School Abuse Scandal

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