LA school officials chided for molest case silence

LOS ANGELES — Angry parents have confronted Los Angeles school officials, demanding to know why they weren't told for a year that a teacher was alleged to have photographed children in class for sexual thrills.

A forum was held Wednesday at Miramonte Elementary School to discuss the investigation of Mark Berndt, a third-grade teacher who was arrested this week on charges that he photographed 23 students as young as 6 in his classroom. Authorities said he blindfolded students and fed them his semen.

Investigators found hundreds of photos.

Cheremoya Dupree, who has two youngsters in the school, said about 100 parents were at the meeting and shouted angrily when school and sheriff's officials said the case was handled according to procedure.

Principal Mark Sandoval and other officials said Berndt was removed from class in January 2011 but parents weren't told anything because authorities didn't want to compromise their investigation.

The investigation of Berndt began when a film processor in Redondo Beach found photos more than a year ago, according to the Sheriff's Department, which was given the case by Redondo Beach police on Dec. 2, 2010.


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