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Entries in Miramonte Elementary School (4)

Wednesday
Feb222012

Los Angeles School Scandal: Lawyer Wants Teacher Treated Fairly

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- With the city of Los Angeles and even the nation outraged at the alleged sexual abuse accusations against elementary school teacher Mark Berndt, his attorney Victor Acevedo asked Tuesday that people not find his client guilty until he's had his day in court.

The lawyer made his request on the same day that Berndt, who has been charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children at Miramonte Elementary School in south Los Angeles, pleaded not guilty.

Berndt, 61, is alleged to have taken pictures of children who were blindfolded in his classroom and in some cases, reportedly fed them spoonfuls of his semen among other lewd acts. The youngsters were not aware they were being victimized, according to prosecutors.

Acevedo claimed during the arraignment that jail staff announced over a loudspeaker that Berndt, who's currently being held on $23 million bail, was a child molester and in which dorm he was staying.

Child molesters are at particular risk for being attacked in prison.

In response to Acevedo's allegation, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said, "We don’t do that kind of thing, but we're going to do an investigation of it."

The case against Berndt began in October 2010 when a drugstore photo processor turn over photos he said were from the teacher that showed children blindfolded and gagged.

While Berndt was removed from the classroom in January 2010, there are questions about why it took a year to file charges.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

Cops: Los Angeles Teacher Had 200 More Student Bondage Photos

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Police have found 200 more student bondage photos allegedly taken by Los Angeles school teacher Mark Brendt, who is accused of sexually abusing elementary school students.

Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Sgt. Dan Scott said Wednesday that the pictures were much like the first 200 collected by authorities in the year-long investigation into Berndt, but at least 25 more students from Miramonte Elementary School are depicted in the pictures.

Investigators are trying to identify the 25 students.

The initial batch of photos showed children blindfolded, with cockroaches on their faces and spoons full of semen in front of their mouths.

The new pictures were found in a Los Angeles pharmacy's photo printing database.

Berndt's arrest last week sparked a ripple-effect of child sex allegations against other current and former teachers. Martin Springer was arrested four days after Berndt and charged with molesting a female student. A second student who had accused Springer later recanted her claim.

An attorney for three of the alleged victims, Brian Claypool, said Monday that a third teacher, a female, had helped deliver students into Berndt's classroom to be abused. Sgt. Scott said investigators interviewed the woman, who was cooperative, and concluded she was not a suspect.

Wednesday, the mother of a former Miramonte Elementary School student told the Los Angeles Times that her fourth grade son was the recipient of inappropriate love letters by a teacher's aide in 2009.

The Los Angeles Unified School District confirmed to ABC News Wednesday that Areceli Luisjuan, a teacher's aide, was investigated for writing the letters to the boy in 2009. A spokeswoman for the district said that Luisjuan had since been fired, but did not specify when the firing occurred.

Luisjuan, who is described by the Los Angeles Times as a woman in her fifties, allegedly wrote that she liked it when the boy put his arm around her and was sad when she was transferred to another school because she would not be able to see him anymore.

In one of her three letters, the aide wrote, "When you get close to me, even if you give me the chills I like that. Don't tell nobody about this!"

The mother of the boy spoke anonymously to the LA Times, telling the paper that she had brought the letters to Miramonte Elementary School administrators and was told she was making up stories. She took the letters to the Los Angeles Sheriff's department, but was told to take up the issue with the school, according to the Times.

Luisjuan was not able to be reached for this story.

The school has been closed Tuesday and Wednesday as its entire faculty is being replaced and interrogated by school officials. The school will reopen Thursday.

An attorney representing alleged victims said the school had a systemic problem of abuse because of teachers who preyed on children of single-family homes.

The lawyer, Keith Davidson, is representing three victims in the case against Berndt. He previously represented three kindergarten-aged students from Miramonte who pressed charges against Ricardo Guevera, a teacher who was convicted of molesting the girls and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Davidson said that in his previous case, Guevera told at least one little girl who was from a single-parent home that he could show her what it was like to have a father.

"Evidence in the Guevera case was introduced that Guevera targeted female kindergarten students who lived in a single mother home. He manipulated them by attempting to be their father figure," Davidson said.

The comments mirror the allegations of current victims represented by Claypool, who said that Berndt tried to lure one female student to his home by saying he could be her second father.

Davidson noted that in a civil suit brought against Guevera, the school district and Miramonte, the plaintiffs were awarded $1.5 million.

"You would think after the prior allegations, and civil judgments in excess of $1.5 million, you would expect Miramonte to be the safest school in the country. In fact it's just the opposite," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb082012

Second Teacher Charged in Los Angeles School Scandal

KABC-TV/ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- Prosecutors in Los Angeles have filed lewd acts charges against a second teacher for allegedly fondling at least one student at the beleaguered Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles.

Martin Springer was charged Tuesday with three counts of committing lewd acts on one girl, according to The Los Angeles Times, which reported that a law enforcement officer said a second girl recanted her accusation against the teacher.

Bail for Springer was reportedly set at $300,000, while the judge said the 49-year-old will be forced to wear an ankle monitoring device if released.

Another teacher, Mark Berndt, was arrested earlier after a year-long investigation into lewd acts he allegedly committed on 23 children aged 6-10 between 2005 and 2010.  He is accused of feeding students cookies with his semen on them and taking pictures of students blindfolded with cockroaches in their faces.

Brian Claypool, an attorney for some of Berndt's alleged victims, told ABC News that he has identified a female teacher who would allegedly bring little girls to Berndt to be victimized.

"I reported to the L.A. County Sheriff's Special Victims Unit a new teacher who I believe patently aided and abetted the abuse Berndt was carrying out," Claypool told ABC News.

Claypool said his accusation has come from conversations with at least three students or former students who said the other female teacher had a role in the alleged crimes.

"She was a teacher who would escort little girls into Berndt's classroom when he was all alone.  Berndt would come over in the middle of day, whisper in her ear, and they would giggle, and then teacher would pick out two girls, escort them through a common door, so that they were stuck with a pedophile in this classroom.  And that's where he was blindfolding them and spoon-feeding them semen," he said.

Following the arrests of Springer and Berndt, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy announced on Monday he was having Miramonte's 128-person staff temporarily transferred out of the school for the remainder of the winter track.

The district has contacted former teachers and staff members who had been laid off during budget cuts to come back and temporarily teach at the school.

The school is expected to reopen to students on Thursday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb072012

Entire Los Angeles Elementary School Staff Removed Amid Molestation Charges

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Amid allegations that two of its teachers committed lewd acts on students, a Los Angeles elementary school will be wiped clean of all of its staff while investigations into the accusations continue.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy made the announcement Monday night while meeting with parents.  He said everyone from the principal to the janitors at Miramonte Elementary School will be removed and replaced. The new staff is scheduled to take over on Thursday when classes resume.

"I can't have any more surprises at Miramonte, even though the police will do what they have to do.  And if there are no more, thank God.  We deal with the horror and the tragedy I have already.  And if there are more, then we will have to deal with that," Deasy said.

Last week, third grade teacher Mark Berndt was arrested for allegedly abusing 23 students, ages 7 to 10, between 2008 and 2010.  According to officials, the 61-year-old blindfolded and sometimes gagged children, spoon-feeding some of them his semen and placing live cockroaches on the faces of others.

Berndt, who's being held on $23 million bail, was busted when a worker at a film processing outlet turned over photos of the alleged abuse to police.

A few days after Berndt's arrest, another teacher at Miramonte was placed behind bars for molesting some of his students.  Martin Springer, 49, is accused of fondling two girls over the past three years.

"I am outraged, disgusted," Deasy said, referring to the allegations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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