Mark Berndt, the longtime Los Angeles teacher accused of committing lewd acts on 23 children, was investigated but never charged in "an attempted fondling" of a young girl 18 years ago, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Scott, who discovered the case while reviewing records Wednesday evening.
The suspected incident occurred in 1994, and was reported to by Miramonte Elementary officials, notes the L.A. Times. The girl, 10 or 11 years old at the time, told authorities that Berndt tried to touch her over her clothing near her genital area. Following a LASD investigation, the case was rejected by the district attorney's office.
LAUSD Supt. John Deasy confirmed that he also learned of the alleged incident but said the sheriff’s office, not the district, had the records. Deasy has ordered an internal investigation of the 61-year-old suspect to see if district records of past incidents or suspicions exist.
Brendt was arrested Monday following a year long investigation tipped off by a South Bay photo lab that reported suspicious images to authorities.
The 30-year teacher is accused of variety of disturing acts including a "tasting game" where children were blindfolded and spoon-fed a white substance that DNA tests revealed to be his semen.
Berndt, who receives a monthly state pension of nearly $4000 and lifetime health benefits, remains in jail on bail increased to $23 million on Wednesday.