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2d LA teacher accused of abuse

Man arrested over lewd acts with 7-year-olds

LOS ANGELES - A second teacher pulled from a classroom at Miramonte Elementary School was arrested for investigation of lewd acts on two girls yesterday, just days after a third-grade teacher from the same campus was charged with lewd acts involving photographing nearly two dozen children for sexual thrills, authorities said.

Sheriff’s Captain Mike Parker said Martin Springer, 49, of Alhambra was arrested based on information that came forward after the first arrest was announced, but there was no known connection between the two cases. Parker said the victims in the second case were about 7 years old and allegedly were fondled in a classroom.

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In a related development, a lawyer yesterday filed a claim against the Los Angeles Unified School District stating that he intended to file a lawsuit on behalf of an unidentified girl who ate a sugar cookie laced with the semen of the first teacher arrested, Mark Berndt.

The second teacher was removed after accusations of inappropriate touching of students surfaced on Thursday, Superintendent John Deasy said.

“We are prepared to fire him next week and we’ll do that at the next board meeting for inappropriate conduct and inappropriately touching students,’’ Deasy told KTTV.

Deasy said the district has seen an increase in the number of complaints of teacher molestation since news of Berndt’s arrest broke.

Child-abuse investigators were informed by the district late Thursday night, sheriff’s Lieutenant Carlos Marquez said.

Earlier this week, third-grade teacher Mark Berndt, who worked at the school for 30 years, was charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010. He remains jailed on $23 million bail and could face life in prison if convicted.

Deasy said the allegations had not been previously reported to the district.

Lawyer Raymond Boucher, whose Beverly Hills firm specializes in sexual abuse lawsuits against school districts, religious institutions, and hospitals, said the legal claim of behalf of “Jane Doe 1’’ charges that the district did not take adequate steps to prevent Berndt from repeatedly abusing children after they received complaints about him.

School was in session yesterday at Miramonte. After news broke about the second teacher, several parents took their children home.

Ida Santana said her sister called her and told her to pick up her nephew.

“It’s hard to leave our kids here,’’ Santana said. “We can’t trust the teachers.’’

Several other parents were seen walking youngsters away from the school.

The development involving the second teacher was made public a day after authorities acknowledged that 18 years ago a 10-year-old girl claimed Berndt tried to fondle her.

Prosecutors declined to file to charges against Berndt in the 1993 report, saying they did not have enough evidence.

The details of that case and other claims by two former students about strange behavior by Berndt surfaced three days after his arrest.

The allegations also raised questions about why he was not disciplined by school officials, who have been lambasted for waiting a year to reveal Berndt was suspected of taking bondage-style photographs of children in his class.

Only parents of children identified as victims were told by authorities about the most recent investigation.

School officials and investigators said proper procedures were followed.

The incident involving the 10-year-old girl occurred in September 1993 but was not reported by her mother to officials until the following January, after her daughter had seen an “Oprah’’ show about inappropriate touching, sheriff’s Sergeant Dan Scott said Thursday.

The girl claimed Berndt reached toward her genitals during class and she pushed his hand away, Scott said.

School officials notified the Sheriff’s Department, which submitted evidence to prosecutors. They did not file a charge of committing a lewd act on a minor under the age of 14, and Berndt was never arrested.

Earlier, two women who were former students of Berndt told the Los Angeles Times that complaints were made about his odd behavior as far back as 1990.

Berndt is suspected of snapping nearly 400 photographs of Miramonte students, some with a giant Madagascar cockroach on their faces.

Others were blindfolded or had clear tape over their mouths, Scott said.

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