herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Teacher is held over gagging and lewd acts on school children

A PRIMARY school teacher has been charged with lewd acts after blindfolding children, gagging them and getting cockroaches to crawl over their faces.

Detectives say the teacher told the children it was a game.

Mark Berndt photographed them, creating hundreds of images that would eventually lead to his arrest.

Some photos showed Berndt with his arm around children or his hand over their mouths. Some photos showed children with live bugs on their mouths or faces.

Others depicted girls with what appears to be a spoon up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest a clear-white liquid. Children were fed Berndt's semen from a spoon or on cookies, said Carlos Marquez , of the Los Angeles County sheriff's department.

Children reported being fed something distasteful. A blue plastic spoon and container found in the trash in his classroom tested positive for his semen, authorities said.

"They didn't know they were being violated in that manner," a police spokesman said.

Berndt (61) is in custody on charges of lewd acts on 23 boys and girls, ages 6 to 10, between 2008 and 2010. None of them complained about Berndt's behaviour, authorities said.

Police only learned of it when a film processor found Berndt's photos. "If it wasn't for the film processor, this could still be continuing today," Mr Marquez said. The probe began after the film processor turned over some 40 photographs to authorities.

hnews@herald.ie

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