Orange County Criminal Defense

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Ex-L.A. Teacher Guilty in Lewdness Case

November 21, 2013

Fred Thiagarajah

Mark Berndt, 62, was found guilty and plead no contest on Friday Nov.15th to 23 felony counts of lewdness on 23 separate children, and was immediately sentenced to 25 years in jail, according to the District Attorney.

The case first broke out in late 2010 after a film processing company contacted officials about photos of children in a classroom with their eyes and mouth taped shut.

Berndt taught at Miramonte Elementary School for over 30 years, and in 2012 was arrested for the horrific crimes against numerous kids in the Elementary. One of the children told their mother that Berndt would give them cookies with “white stuff” sprinkled on top; and as the story developed it became apparent that Berndt would bondage these young children up and would have large cockroaches crawling across their face, or force them to hold teaspoons fool of semen in their mouth while he photographed and documented the crimes.

Berndt entered the room seeming haggard and bent, and did not once turn to face the mob of livid parents in the courtroom. His lawyer however made a formal apology to the crowd on his behalf, stating that Berndt felt great remorse for his actions. Later, Berndt’s attorney, Manny Medrano, stated that his client could be released after serving only 20 of the 25 years in jail.

In September, the Los Angeles Unified School district spent 27.3 million settling 58 of 191 students’ lawsuits claiming that they were victims of these horrible acts.

The 23 children were all 7-10 years old, with 22 of them being girls and one boy.

For the full story, click here.

Engaging in lewd behavior on a child under the age of 14 is punishable under Penal Code section 288(a) and carries with it a maximum penalty of eight years state prison for each county. If the perpetrator used force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person, then the maximum penalty is 10 years state prison for each count, under Penal Code section 288(b)(1).


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