Girl Says She Was Victim of Both Accused Teachers at L.A. School
In 2008, a second-grader at Miramonte Elementary School reportedly came home from school and showed her parents two photos she said were taken by her teacher, Mark Berndt.
One photo shows her with two other girls, standing against a wall. The second shows her biting down on a small cookie. A shiny, light-colored substance is faintly visible on top of the cookie.
The parents said they found the photos strange and went to Miramonte’s principal at the time to complain. They say the principal looked at the photos but dismissed their concerns, suggesting the photos might be part of a class project.
FULL COVERAGE: Mark Berndt
The girl was later transferred to the classroom of Martin Bernard Springer. There, the father said, his daughter said Springer touched her on the leg and thigh.
The parents put the alleged incidents behind them until last week, when Berndt was charged with 23 acts of lewd conduct against students in his classroom. Berndt, 61, allegedly spoon-fed his semen to children as part of what he called a “tasting game” in which children were blindfolded and, in some cases, gagged with tape. Authorities said they have hundreds of photos he took in the classroom showing the scenes.
Then on Friday, Springer was arrested after the girl and another female student said he touched them improperly within the last three years.
Law enforcement sources said Saturday that detectives believe the one girl was a victim of both Berndt and Springer. Detective have been investigating her accusations against the two teachers.
The detectives have seen records confirming that the girl was transferred from Berndt’s class to Springer’s class, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing.
The accusations by the second-grader’s parents raise more questions about how much officials knew about Berndt’s behavior. Two former students of Berndt, who are now adults, said in interviews with The Times that they thought they saw the teacher masturbating behind his desk in the 1990-91 school year. A counselor at the school told a group of students at the time not to make up stories, one of them said.