In the fall of 2010, a drugstore photo technician was running a batch of 35-millimeter film when a disturbing image tumbled out of the machine — a child, blindfolded with a white cloth and gagged with clear packing tape. From that first photograph, detectives spent the next year following a trail that led them to a South Los Angeles elementary school.
They say they found acts of staggering depravity.
And (skip if you can’t handle the grossness):
Berndt, who was being held in lieu of $2.3-million bail, regularly told his students that they were going to play a “tasting game,” in which children were blindfolded and, in some cases, gagged with tape, authorities say. The semen appears to have been ingested by the children on a blue plastic spoon and, according to one alleged victim’s father, on cookies.
The alleged victims were boys and girls ages 7 to 10.
“This occurred in his regular classroom with his students,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Scott. “It wasn’t done in secrecy. The only secret was what the ‘game’ was really about.”
Berndt is also accused of placing a 3-inch-long Madagascar cockroach on his students’ faces and mouths.
Much remains unclear about the case. The acts that Berndt is charged with committing took place between 2005 and 2010, though detectives said they were still trying to determine how far back the alleged abuse occurred.
It took a drug store photo guy to find something that had allegedly been going on for half a decade or more. And then it took a year to notify the parents. If I was one of those parents, you’d have to handcuff me to the radiator to keep me from doing something “rash.”