Entries in Sexual Molestation (3)


Caffeine Defense Claimed by Serial Groper

Gerald Zanetti/FoodPix(SEATTLE) -- There’s been the Twinkie defense, the Zoloft defense, the PMS defense and the Ambien defense.  Now, Kenneth Sands -- convicted on July 3 of groping women and teenage girls -- has tried and failed to create legal precedence with the caffeine defense.

Sands attributed his behavior to “an excessive intake of caffeine,” ABC News' Seattle affiliate reported.

Sands, 52, is a bus driver for the Rainier School District.  He was convicted of molesting three teenage high school girls and two women during and after a volleyball game on Oct. 18, 2011.

The first groping incident occurred while Sands was a spectator at the game when he “allegedly touched a 46-year-old woman’s breasts multiple times and later tried to grab her butt as she was trying to get away from him,” KOMO reported and a representative from the Lewis County Washington Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

Following the game, Sands then grabbed two teenage girls outside of a school bus and proceeded to follow the volleyball players onto the bus, according to court documents.  Sands touched another female student in an inappropriate manner before “the bus driver kicked him off of the bus,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Sands insists his behavior was a result of caffeine and that this incident is not representative of his normal behavior.

Dr. Martin Blinder, a psychiatrist known for presenting the “Twinkie defense” in the 1979 trial of San Francisco Supervisor Dan White, told ABC News that he has never heard of caffeine induced groping.

Blinder contrasted the Twinkie defense with the caffeine defense.  The Twinkie defense was successfuly used to help White avoid a first-degree murder conviction for the 1978 assassination of San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.  White’s attorneys argued he had diminished capacity because of depression.  He was convicted of manslaughter instead.

“When someone gets depressed and abandons his diet, eats junk food, and if you are already on a downward spiral, I can tell you that eating junk food is not therapeutic,” Blinder said.  “If you ever read the label on a Twinkie, only two of the ingredients sound like food products.”

But caffeine is made out of coffee beans, all natural and free of artificial ingredients, he said.

“We have no evidence that coffee is harmful.  In fact, there is some evidence that drinking it in one’s old age can assist in some Alzheimer’s cases,” Blinder said.

Blinder admitted that if someone is trying to quit coffee cold turkey that some withdrawal symptoms have taken affect in the form of cravings, headaches and restlessness.  “But going out and molesting women is not one of those symptoms,” says Blinder.

Sands was unable to be reached for a comment.  He has been sentenced to 30 days for each of the five counts of fourth-degree assault, totaling five months in jail.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


LA Teacher in Child Bondage Case Suspected Earlier of Lewd Acts

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- There was new outrage Thursday over a report that a Los Angeles elementary school teacher accused of committing lewd acts on children was previously investigated nearly 20 years ago.

Mark Berndt, 61, is being held on $23 million bail for allegedly abusing 23 students, ages 7 to 10, between 2008 and 2010.

Berndt, who taught third grade at Miramonte Elementary School in south Los Angeles, was fired from his job in January 2011 and arrested this past week.

Investigators now reveal that Berndt was investigated in 1993 over an unspecified matter but the district attorney in the case decided not to pursue a case against the teacher, saying, "A prosecutor cannot ethically file criminal charges if the evidence fails to meet the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

Still, that has many wondering what Berndt was allegedly up to then and if he should have ever been allowed to teach children.

According to at least one published report, investigators were looking into an accusation that Berndt had fondled a 10-year-old girl.

Meanwhile, The Los Angeles Times says that two women who were students of Berndt 20 years ago told school administrators at the time that they believed the teacher was fondling himself in the classroom.

The current case against Berndt began in October 2010 when a drugstore photo processor turned 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 why it took a year to file charges.

It's alleged that the teacher fed children spoonfuls of his semen among other lewd acts.  The youngsters were not aware they were being victimized, according to prosecutors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Teacher Charged with Taking Bondage Pics of Students

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A former elementary school teacher in Los Angeles has been arrested for allegedly molesting nearly two dozen children after photos of students posed in bondage positions were passed to the Sheriff's Department.

Mark Berndt, 61, a teacher with over 30 years experience at Miramonte Elementary School in south Los Angeles, is charged with molesting 23 children, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Police began the investigation after a photo processing facility passed along suspicious images depicting students blindfolded with their mouths covered in tape. Female students were depicted with a blue plastic spoon containing "an unknown clear/white liquid" in front of their mouths, while other students were pictured with live cockroaches on their faces. In some photos, Berndt had his arm around the children or his hand over their mouths.

Police found the spoon, along with an empty container in the trash in Berndt's classroom and, through DNA testing, determined that both contained Berndt's semen.

The students were between the ages of 7 and 10 years old when the alleged crimes occurred, police said.

Authorities launched a widespread sex crime investigation, interviewing current and former students and school employees and searching Berndt's home. They recovered a total of 390 photographs and an adult "sexual bondage" film which mirrored the photos of the children, according to a statement by the sheriff's department on Tuesday.

More than 26 children from the photographs have been identified; an additional 10 children have not yet been identified, police said.

Shortly after the investigation began, in March, 2011, Berndt was fired from the school. The school did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday.

Berndt was arrested Monday and charged with 23 felony counts of lewd acts upon a child. He is being held at LA County jail in lieu of $2.3 million bail.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio