L.A. Sheriff's Department
Accused teacher Mark Berndt.
Sheriff's investigators have five more alleged victims in the horrifying case of longtime Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who appeared in court, handcuffed behind a caged area, on Wednesday. His arraignment on 23 counts of lewd acts against children has been held over until Feb 23.
Prosecutors were able to increase Berndt's bail today from $2.3-million, to $23 million, based on the alleged crimes. Additional charges may be filed pending verification of the new allegations, notes the L.A. Times.
The 61-year-old allegedly told children they were going to play a "tasting game," blindfoldeding the victims, gagging some with tape, putting cockroaches on others, and spoon-feeding them a white substance that DNA tests revealed to be his semen, according to authorities.
The victims were supposed to say whether the substance was sweet or salty and if they liked the taste, say authorities, who were tipped off by a CVS photo lab tech who reported suspicious photos of bound children to police.
The suspect is charged with acts that took place from 2005 to 2010, however detectives are still trying to determine a full timeframe for the alleged abuse. Authorities are looking through a cache of approximately 400 photos.