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Sheriff's Dept. says allegation in KTLA story on Miramonte 'is not true'

Screenshot from KTLA's report

A local TV report alleging that another teacher had helped sexual abuse suspect Mark Berndt commit lewd acts on students is false, according to the L.A. Sheriff's Department. 

Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore told KPCC that the allegation in the KTLA report "is not true."

In the story by reporter David Begnaud, an unidentified student talked about how her teacher would let Berndt "borrow" her, and that Berndt gave her cookies. Begnaud said the girl's remarks proved that the unnamed teacher "worked with [Berndt] to victimize children."

Sheriff's investigators have determined that the teacher is not a suspect, Whitmore told KPCC. "They talked to the woman and they looked at all the evidence and decided there was nothing criminal."

KTLA has since been informed that the accused teacher is not a suspect, according to Whitmore.

"Whether it’s witnesses or suspects, we want them to talk to us and only us," he said.

You can watch the KTLA story here.

Update 6:57 p.m.: KTLA says they have no intention of removing the segment from their website, though they did issue an update with the Sheriff's Department's response at 1 p.m.

"We reported on updates as they developed," said Jason Ball, news director for KTLA. "Obviously, this is a growing, changing story, so we've just, we're reporting the news as we get it."

Ball said the news update will be up on their website shortly.

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'I don't want them to take my teacher away,' says Miramonte Elementary student

Teacher Classroom Bondage

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Members of the media gather outside the Miramonte Elementary school on Friday. A second teacher pulled from a classroom at Miramonte Elementary School this week was arrested Friday, just days after a third-grade teacher was charged with lewd acts involving photographing nearly two dozen children for sexual thrills, authorities said.

When sixth-grader Jasmine Garcia, 11, returns to class at Miramonte Elementary School on Thursday she will be greeted by an entirely new group of teachers and school staff.

She and her mother, Michelle Medina, 33, attended L.A. Unified's meeting for concerned parents Monday night where Superintendent John Deasy informed them of the drastic changes to the school including the relocation of all staff, after two teachers were arrested on lewd conduct charges last week.

"I don't think it's fair for teachers working there so many years," Medina said. "My daughter has been going to school since preschool and is about to graduate in June and the teacher is not going to be there. It's not fair."

Jasmine spoke quietly about what happened with an embarrassed smile.

"I think it's sad because my teacher helps me with a lot, I don't know, I don't want them to take my teacher away," Jasmine said.

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'An extremely difficult week for the LAUSD community,' superintendent says

John Deasy

Nick Ut/AP

John Deasy, head of the Los Angeles Unified School District

After all the Hamilton teacher abuse allegations that surfaced this week, LAUSD superintendent John Deasy said he was "appalled and sickened" at news of the arrest of a second teacher at Miramonte Elementary School. Deasy could not be reached for comment but the district released this statement:

"As an educator and a father, I'm appalled and sickened by the allegations against this teacher," said the Superintendent. "The District is working closely with the entire Miramonte community to deal with the terrible trauma that has arisen as the result of the arrest of Mark Berndt earlier this week and today's arrest of Martin Springer."

Deasy noted that the District removed Springer from the Miramonte campus yesterday when he first learned of the allegations. He said he will ask the Board of Education early next week to immediately terminate Springer's employment.

"Though this has been an extremely difficult week for the entire LAUSD community," said Deasy, "we must never lose sight of the fact that the great majority of teachers in this District are caring, nurturing, and understanding toward their students."

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