LOS ANGELES, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- A Los Angeles elementary school teacher has been arrested and charged with lewd acts on 23 children whom he allegedly tied up and photographed, police said.
Mark Berndt, 61, was being held Tuesday in lieu of $2.3 million bail for the alleged incidents, which included placing giant Madagascar cockroaches on boys' and girls' faces and possibly feeding them his semen from a blue spoon, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Berndt had been fired from his job at Miramonte Elementary School in March after a photo processor turned over photographs of some of the acts to authorities. The LA County sheriff's special victims unit has been investigating since then, interviewing more than 80 students and staff at the school.
"Early in the investigation, special victims bureau detectives recovered a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash within the suspect's classroom," Capt. Mike Parker of the LA County Sheriff's Department said. "The recovered items tested positive for semen." Tests showed the semen matched Berndt's DNA, the newspaper reported.
Parker said police so far have identified 23 victims ages 7 to 10 years old when they had contact with Berndt from 2008 to 2010. Ten children in the photos have not been identified.