By Shannon Corrigan
A Los Angeles teacher was arrested on charges that he had sexually molested 23 children after photographs were found of children bound, blind-folded and, in some cases, with large cockroaches crawling on them, authorities told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Mark Berndt, 61, is accused of committing lewd acts on 23 boys and girls, ages 6 to 10, between 2008 and 2010. He was arrested Monday at his home and is being held on $2.3 million bail.
None of the 23 students complained of Berndt's behavior. Police and school officials learned of the criminal action after a film processor found Berndt's photos over a year ago, the Associate Press reports.
Searches of Berndt's classroom and home revealed hundreds of photographs. Some of these photos showed Berndt with his arm around children or his hand over their mouths. In some photos children were shown with live cockroaches crawling on their mouths and faces, the Associate Press reports.
In other photos, girls appear to be about to eat from a plastic spoon filled with a substance that investigators say they later identified as Berndt's semen, Sgt. Dan Scott of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Special Victims bureau told the Wall Street Journal.
"Apparently, the children didn't know they were being violated," Lt. Carlos Marquez told the Associated Press, "They thought it was a game."
Berndt is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday.