By: Rachel Pulaski
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USA Today reported:
Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested Monday at his Torrance home and remained jailed on $2.3 million bail, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department statement. The charges involve 23 boys and girls ages 6 to 10 between 2008 and 2010. Berndt worked for more than 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School in an unincorporated area of South Los Angeles before being fired as a result of the investigation. Miramonte serves a poor, mainly Hispanic neighborhood. More than half of its approximately 1,400 students are still learning English, according to the school’s website. Sheriff’s Lt. Carlos Marquez of the Special Victims Bureau said it was determined the children were given semen on a spoon or on a cookie. A blue plastic spoon and container found in trash in Berndt’s classroom tested positive for semen, the sheriff’s statement said. Authorities are recommending the children be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Some of the children’s mouths and faces had large, live Madagascar-type cockroaches on them, according to the statement. The incidents occurred during school hours but not all the children were students of Berndt, Marquez said. None of the alleged victims told anyone about the incidents and photos, Marquez said.