Second teacher removed amid Los Angeles sex abuse probe

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2012 3:03 PM

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A second teacher has been removed from a Los Angeles-area elementary school where one instructor is accused of having taken bondage-style photos of students with cockroaches on their faces, school and police officials said on Friday.

The second teacher was removed from the classroom on Thursday after school officials received "allegations of possible inappropriate behavior" involving the instructor, the Los Angeles Unified School District said in a statement.

Officials have not named the second teacher, nor have they detailed the allegations against him. They also did not say whether there was any connection between the two teachers.

Mark Berndt, 61, a veteran third-grade instructor at Miramonte Elementary School, was arrested on Monday and charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children. He remained jailed on $23 million bail, officials said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department special victims bureau was investigating the second teacher, said Sergeant Dan Scott, a member of the unit.

But Scott declined to say whether the latest case was linked to the charges against Berndt, or if the second teacher has been arrested.

"He will remain off campus pending an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," the school district said in a statement.

The first teacher, Berndt, was arrested at his home on Monday following a year-long investigation that began when a photo processor turned over pictures to police that showed students blindfolded and with their mouths covered with tape.

He was removed from the school in January 2011, school and sheriff's officials said. Johan ElFarra, a public defender for Berndt, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Miramonte Elementary is located in a mostly poor community near South Los Angeles.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Paul Thomasch)