LA Teacher Accused in Horrifying Sex Abuse Case May Have Been Hurting Kids for Decades

Mark Berndt
Mark Berndt
There's no question that sexually abusing children is a crime. So what if you thought someone was abusing kids and didn't stop it. Is that just as bad? That's the question in the scandal-plagued Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles right now, where not one but two teachers have been charged with sex abuse on students in recent weeks.

The news that Mark Berndt, a teacher who spent 30-some-odd years in a classroom, and colleague Martin Bernard Springer, a second grade teacher, may have been hurting the kids who trusted them is bad enough. But if new allegations that claim the district knew Berndt was hurting kids as far back as 1990 prove true, this sick and sad story goes much deeper than two alleged perverts.

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When the news came out that a second teacher at Miramonte had been charged with sexually abusing children, I didn't want to blame the district. I wanted to write it off as one of those freak things that happens in life. How could someone foresee such horrors and let them pass?

How indeed?

Cops have now said that a little girl claimed Berndt fondled her back in 1994. Another set of adult women say they told the district he had been sexually inappropriate with them when they were kids in 1990 only to be told to "stop inventing stories."

Then there's Richard Guevara, the Miramonte teacher's aide who was convicted in 2005 committing lewd acts with children -- a full decade after the first allegations were made against him. And yet another aide, this one not yet identified, is the subject of an investigation into complaints made by a mom in 2009 -- that's three years ago folks -- that her 11-year-old son had received love notes from the adult male.

One sex abuse scandal is a tragedy. Two is a horror. FOUR? That's a sign of ineptitude at best, blatant disregard for the sanctity of childhood at the worst. These allegations -- and the conviction of Guevara -- make it harder and harder to look at Miramonte and think that the only crime was in the people abusing kids. If they're true, it sounds like there was also a failure to protect kids that borders on criminal.

What do you think? Do you believe this all could be coincidence?


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