Mark Berndt, L.A. teacher subjected 23 children to S&M game

Mark Berndt, 61 formerly a third grade teacher in the L.A. Unified School System, was arrested for committing lewd acts on 23 children ranging in age from 7 to 10 years old.

Mr. Berndt was a 30 year veteran at the Miramonte Elementary School in L.A. County and his arrest ended an investigation that lasted more than one year.

Brandt was taken into custody after his DNA was matched to that of utensils given to eight year-olds that allegedly containing Berndt's semen. The children involved were tied up with rope and large cockroaches were placed on some while others were given spoons to put near their mouths with a white liquid substance in them.

None of the students reported what are being called classroom games. Of the 23 children in the photos, only 13 have been identified. They were offered special counseling and according to the L.A. Times, some parents took advantage of the opportunity while others declined.

The discovery of photographs began the hunt for the truth after a photo store notified the Redondo Beach police department that he was asked to duplicate photos that depicted what looked like child abuse.

That was in October 2010 and by December, L.A. County Sheriff's Office's Special Victims Unit took on the investigations.

In early January 2011, the school system was notified and Berndt was immediately removed from his teaching duties. He was terminated from his position at the very next meeting of the school district.

Since that time, investigators found a spoon in Berndt's classroom trash with traces of his semen on it and the former teacher's DNA samples were obtained. The L.A. County Sheriff's spokesman told media that the games played with the children were kept secret, yet stretched over a period of time that would make one think others in the school noticed.

More than 80 adults and children have been interviewed by investigators and Mark Berndt is being held in police custody on the condition he can post $2.3 million in bond.

Berndt was considered one of the more effective teachers at his elementary school, in a study conducted by the Times, although his overall score was merely average. The evaluation was completed from a value-added analysis of standardized test scores.

A review of his employee file found no disciplinary action taken against Berndt during his tenure at the school.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Dobo 123