A former Los Angeles elementary school teacher charged with blindfolding students and spoon-feeding them cookies laced with his semen has agreed to plead no contest to all charges, an attorney for some of the victims said Thursday.
Mark Berndt plans to enter the legal equivalent of guilty pleas to 23 charges at a hearing Friday, according to John Manly, an attorney who represents 30 Miramonte Elementary School students and their parents. Manly said he was notified of the plea by prosecutors.
The plea agreement calls for Berndt to be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Manly called the agreement a victory for his clients and said they are grateful for being treated ‘with decency and dignity’ by prosecutors.
‘He’s going to jail essentially for the rest of his life,’ he said of the 62-year-old Berndt. ‘You can’t ask for more than that.’
He said prosecutors urged a plea deal because ‘they were concerned about re-traumatizing the children at trial.’
The district attorney’s office and Berndt’s lawyer declined to comment.
Before Berndt was sentenced, a parade of sobbing mothers denounced him, saying he had ruined their lives and the lives of their daughters. The women were not named in court.
They said they could not understand how the school district did not know about the incidents.
Some said their daughters could no longer eat cookies or anything sweet unless they knew their mothers had baked the items for them. They spoke of girls who had now become unable to socialize and locked themselves in their bedrooms.
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