It's been a bad week for sick child abuse "games" in California. First came news of the teacher who played the terrible "lollypop game" with a student, and now Mark Berndt, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in Florence-Firestone, California, has been arrested for playing the "tasting game," in which he got sexual pleasure from spoon-feeding his semen to his students. What's even more horrifying is that he is believed to have abused at least 23 students, both boys and girls, between the ages of seven and ten.
Police said the "tasting game" involved him blindfolding the children (and sometimes gagging them with tape), then feeding them semen either on a plastic spoon or on a cookie. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Scott says, "This occurred in his regular classroom with his students. It wasn't done in secrecy. The only secret was what the 'game' was really about."
The abuse is thought to have taken place between 2005 and 2010 but could go back much further than that. Berndt's crimes were only discovered after a photo tech at a drugstore noticed a picture of "a child, blindfolded with a white cloth and gagged with clear packing tape." The police were contacted and followed a trail that eventually led them to 61-year-old Berndt. In his apartment, they uncovered an additional 400 deeply disturbing photos. It's chilling to think how long this could have gone on if he'd never taken any pictures and been found out. Police say there will likely be additional charges filed against him, and for now he's remains in police custody.
Police are also trying to figure out why none of the victims' families ever reported anything unusual. The school says it never received any complaints, and the third grade teacher, who'd been at the school since 1979, had good relationships with parents and many of his former students.The parents of current students at the school are understandably shocked and trying to come to terms with how something like this could have happened right under everyone's noses.