Breaking News
Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Outraged parents staged a protest Monday at the southern California elementary school where one teacher allegedly fondled second-graders and another allegedly spoon-fed students his semen.

It doesn't appear the two teachers conspired together, authorities said, but both were arrested last week on suspicion of sex abuse — sending shock waves through the community of Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles.

The protesting parents carried a large banner that read "We the parents demand that our children be protected from lewd acts," KNBC reported.

"I want the principal out here to give us an explanation, an answer," one parent told the news station. "I think they should shut down the school to start with. Shut it down, temporarily, until they find a way to let us know that our children are protected."

District officials said the school will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday as investigators continue to probe what staffers might have known about the two teachers: Mark Berndt and Martin Singer.

Berndt, 61, allegedly bound and blindfolded dozens of students and subjected them to lewd acts for his sexual kicks between 2005 and 2010, authorities claim.

He photographed them with a giant live cockroach crawling on their faces and a blue plastic spoon allegedly filled with his semen up to their mouths, authorities said.

Berndt allegedly told the kids they were playing a "tasting game," a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department source told the Daily News.

Springer, 49, was arrested Friday on suspicion of fondling two girls inside his classroom sometime in the last three years.

District officials originally said they were not aware of any complaints against the teachers, but prior accusations have since surfaced.

On Saturday, authorities revealed that a female student may have been the victim of both teachers.

The girl and her parents complained to school officials in 2008 when she was a student in Berndt's second-grade class and brought home strange pictures, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Officials dismissed the complaints, and the girl was transferred to Springer's class, where he allegedly touched her on the leg and thigh during the school day, sources told The Times.

Last Thursday, authorities acknowledged that 18 years ago, a 10-year-old girl claimed Berndt tried to fondle her. The case was investigated by the Sheriff's Department, but the District Attorney declined to prosecute saying the 1993 case lacked sufficient evidence, officials said.

Superintendent John Deasy has said he is "sickened and appalled" by the allegations.

District officials plan to meet with parents at a local high school Monday night.

Berndt was removed from his classroom last year after a pharmacy photo technician printed the disturbing images and alerted local police.

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