Two women also said this week that when they were students of Berndt’s in 1990-91, they told a counselor of behavior in the classroom that implied that he was fondling himself, the Los Angeles Times reports. One of the women said the counselor “told us it’s not very good to make stories up. She said it was our imagination.”
The school district is launching its own investigation into how Berndt’s alleged behavior could have gone on undetected for years. The case came to light when a photo developer called law enforcement officials in late 2010 about incriminating photos, the LA Times reports.
Berndt is accused of blindfolding and gagging students, and making them play a “game” of tasting strange things, including spoonfuls of a substance that police say was his semen.
Berndt was removed from the classroom as soon as the criminal investigation started. But the school district was asked to hold its own investigation only after the criminal probe was complete.
In a Feb. 1 letter, L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy wrote: “The District takes each and every reported act of criminal and administrative misconduct seriously, and we will continue to aggressively pursue each case … and initiate the appropriate disciplinary measures.”
While abusers often select and “groom” a young target to trust them until they can get him or her in a private setting, there have been cases of abuse in front of other students. A 2004 report for the US Department of Education mentions a case in which a teacher would call boys up to his desk one at a time to discuss homework, and then would fondle them.