A teacher in South L.A. who taught for 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School has been arrested and charged for lewd acts on 23 children, having allegedly tied them up, put cockroaches on their faces and possibly fed them semen, KTLA News reported.
Mark Berndt, 61, was taken into custody on Monday at his home in Torrence, Calif., after a yearlong investigation that started a year ago when 40 photographs of kids in a school classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered with tape, were discovered by a film processor, according to KTLA. These crimes are said by police to have occurred between 2008 and 2010, involving boys and girls between 7 and 10-years-old.
Investigators also recovered photos from Berndt's home, totaling 390 photos in all, some depicting students in the school environment with large cockroaches crawling on them, around their faces and mouths.
Some girls were photographed with a blue plastic spoon filled with clear/white liquid up to their mouths, KTLA reported.
Early investigations discovered "a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash within" Berndt's classroom, LAPD Capt. Mike Parker said. Further investigations concluded that the DNA found on the spoon and container matched Berndt's DNA, which was obtained and tested by special victims bureau detectives, according to the L.A. Times.
Over 26 children have been identified in the total photos while approximately 10 children remain unidentified, police said.
L.A. Times also reported that Berndt was fired from his position at the school in March. He is being held on $2.3 million bail.