(LOS ANGELES) — With the city of Los Angeles and even the nation outraged at the alleged sexual abuse accusations against elementary school teacher Mark Berndt, his attorney Victor Acevedo asked Tuesday that people not find his client guilty until he’s had his day in court.
The lawyer made his request on the same day that Berndt, who has been charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children at Miramonte Elementary School in south Los Angeles, pleaded not guilty.
Berndt, 61, is alleged to have taken pictures of children who were blindfolded in his classroom and in some cases, reportedly fed them spoonfuls of his semen among other lewd acts. The youngsters were not aware they were being victimized, according to prosecutors.
Acevedo claimed during the arraignment that jail staff announced over a loudspeaker that Berndt, who’s currently being held on $23 million bail, was a child molester and in which dorm he was staying.
Child molesters are at particular risk for being attacked in prison.
In response to Acevedo’s allegation, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said, “We don’t do that kind of thing, but we’re going to do an investigation of it.”
The case against Berndt began in October 2010 when a drugstore photo processor turn over photos he said were from the teacher that showed children blindfolded and gagged.
While Berndt was removed from the classroom in January 2010, there are questions about why it took a year to file charges.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
AJ Willingham, CNN
Virginia Anderson, Kaiser Health News
Holly Yan and Nadeem Muaddi, CNN