Past Complaint About LA Teacher Comes to Light
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Deputies recommended in 1994 an attempted fondling charge be filed against a teacher now suspected of taking bondage-style photographs of children in his class, but prosecutors refused, saying there wasn't enough evidence, authorities disclosed. (Feb. 2)


[Location: Los Angeles, CA - February 2, 2012][Source: AP]Mark Berndt taught here for more than 30 years. In all that time, the Los Angeles Unified School District says no one complained about him… Until the bizarre bondage-style photos of blindfolded children surfaced last year. Now investigators say a 10-year-old girl came forward years before that. She claimed Berndt tried to touch her inappropriately.[SOT/Lt. Carlos Marquez, LA Co. Sheriff's Dept.] "There was a case that was investigated back in 1994, an allegation by one child against our suspect." :14But prosecutors say there wasn't enough evidence to bring the case to trial, so it was closed. Angelica Zuniga, a 16-year-old who was in Berndt's class in 3rd grade, says she can't believe the accusations against their favorite teacher.[SOT/ANGELICA ZUNIGA, former student] "He dedicated half of his life to his students. The people who really knew him, they know he wasn't like that." :14The school district was informed of the 1994 complaint. Superintendent John Deasy declined to comment to the Associated Press Thursday.[NAT/superintendent getting into his car]Parents at Miramonte School say they can't believe the school district didn't tell them sooner.Berndt is still in jailed with his bail set at $23 million, one for each count of lewd conduct with a child. He's accused of blindfolding children, putting a giant Madagascar cockroach from a classroom terrarium on their faces, and feeding them bodily fluids.Meanwhile, two former students of Bernt have come forward saying he acted strangely in the classroom. RMD, the AP, LA.[SIGOUT/REPORTER, LOCATION, ASSOCIATED PRESS](****END****) ANCHOR VOICE: Raquel Maria Dillon-------------------------VIDEO PRODUCER: Raquel Maria Dillon---------------------------VIDEO SOURCE: AP-----------------------VIDEO APPROVAL: dstarddard----------------------------VIDEO RESTRICTIONS: None----------------------------------MARKET EMBARGO (S): None--------------------------------