LOS ANGELES — A second teacher has been arrested at a Los Angeles school where a teacher this week was charged with taking bondage-style photos of children for sexual thrills.
The teacher was removed from contact with children at Miramonte Elementary School after someone made accusations against him, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said Friday morning. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed the second arrest but would not immediately release any information.
The school district informed child-abuse investigators late Thursday night, sheriff's Lt. Carlos Marquez said.
The first teacher, Mark Berndt, who worked at the school for 30 years, has been 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 district has seen an increase in the number of complaints of teacher molestation since news of Berndt's arrest broke, but he provided no figures.
After news broke about the second teacher, several parents took their children out of school.
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 no more."
The development came a day after authorities acknowledged that in 1993 a 10-year-old girl claimed Berndt tried to fondle her. Prosecutors declined to file to charges against Berndt in that report, saying they didn't have enough evidence. Berndt denied the allegation at the time.
That case, and other claims by two former students about strange behavior by Berndt, have raised further questions about why he wasn't disciplined by school officials, who have been criticized by some parents for waiting a year to reveal Berndt was suspected of taking the photographs of children in his class.
Using a cheap camera, Berndt is suspected of snapping nearly 400 photographs of students, some with a giant Madagascar cockroach from a classroom terrarium on their faces. Others were blindfolded or had clear tape over their mouths, and some were given sperm-laced cookies to eat as treats in the photo sessions that were treated like games, Scott said.
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 to investigate and build a case against the teacher.
Deasy told the Los Angeles Times he was struggling to determine how the alleged behavior went undetected for so long.
"How do I make sense out of the fact that this took place over a number of years and no one seemed to know about that?" Deasy asked. "I'm definitely trying to understand how someone could not have known."
Some of Berndt's students defended him, saying he was a kind and generous teacher.
Angelica Zuniga, had Berndt as a teacher in 2003. She said he never asked her or others to do anything strange.
"They're calling him 'monster.' He's just not that kind of person," Angelica said. "He was one of the most amazing teachers out there. He's dedicated his life to us, and I want to stick up for him."
The latest investigation of Berndt began last fall when a film processor became suspicious about the photographs and turned them over to police, who on Dec. 2 handed them over to the sheriff's department, Scott said.
Berndt was removed from classwork in January and fired within the month.
Associated Press writers Robert Jablon and Raquel Maria Dillon contributed to this report.