Two veteran Los Angeles elementary school teachers are arrested after authorities claim to have received several suspicious photographs. NBC's Aditi Roy reports.
Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET: Authorities have released the name of the second teacher arrested Friday, just days after a third-grade teacher at the same inner-city Los Angeles school was charged with lewd acts involving photographing nearly two dozen children for sexual thrill.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said Martin B. Springer, 49, of Alhambra was arrested four days after allegations surfaced against the first teacher, but there was no known connection between the two cases. Springer was being held on $2 million bail.
The expanding case has shocked the nation and thrown a chill into its second-largest school district, with 650,000 students across hundreds of campuses.
Parker said the victims in the second case were about 7 and 8 years old and were fondled once each in a classroom at Miramonte Elementary School during the past three years.
Detectives interviewed Springer and the alleged victims on Thursday and had him under surveillance. He was arrested Friday as he exited a school district building in South Los Angeles, Parker said.
Detectives anticipate that more victims might come forward, he said.
A phone message left at Springer's home was not immediately returned.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said the district plans to fire Springer next week.
Original post: A second teacher pulled from a classroom in Los Angeles this week was arrested Friday, just days after a third-grade teacher was charged with lewd acts involving photographing nearly two dozen children for sexual thrills, authorities said Friday.
The teacher was removed from contact with children at Miramonte Elementary School after accusations were made against him, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said, according to news reports. Deasy wouldn't discuss the allegations against the second teacher or whether it was sexual.
“A new allegation came to our attention yesterday, and we referred the allegation to the sheriff,” Deasy told the Los Angeles Times. “We removed the teacher from the classroom and the matter is being investigated, like when any matter comes to our attention. There is no determination from the authorities, and the person could be completely innocent."
The teacher was “housed,” or reassigned, to a site where there are no students, typically a district office. The teacher's name would not be released, Deasy said.
The teacher was removed from class "out of an abundance of caution" rather than because of any physical evidence," Deasy told The Associated Press.
The special victims' unit, which handles crimes of sexual abuse, was looking into the allegations, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore. No further details were released by the Sheriff's Department.
The school district has experienced an increase in the number of complaints of teacher molestation since Mark Berndt was arrested earlier this week, Deasy told AP, though he did not provide figures.
Berndt, who worked at Miramonte for more than 30 years, was arrested earlier this week after authorities were notified by a film processing technician of 40 photographs that depicted blindfolded children in a classroom with tape over their mouths. Some images showed the former teacher with his arm around the children or hand over their mouths, according to investigators.
A Los Angeles public school teacher accused of engaging in lewd acts with students, allegedly had questions raised about his behavior more than 20 years ago. KNBC's Robert Kovacik reports.
Berndt is accused of felony molestation involving 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010, and is jailed on $23 million bond.
He was investigated in 1994 for allegedly trying to fondle a 10-year-old girl, according to authorities. The alleged act occurred in September 1993, but was not reported to officials at Miramonte Elementary School until January 1994, Lt. Carlos Marquez said.
The girl claimed that Berndt reached toward her genitals during class, but she pushed away his hands, according to the sheriff's department. The school notified the sheriff's department, which opened an investigation. Charges were not filed in that case because prosecutors said they didn't have enough evidence.
The school district has launched its own investigation into the new allegations against Berndt, who was removed from classwork in January and fired within the month.
Following news reports on the second teacher's removal from class, several parents took their children out of school.
"It's hard to leave our kids here," Ida Santana, who picked up her nephew, told AP. "We can't trust the teachers no more. Now there's another teacher."
Several other parents could be seen walking youngsters away from the school. Santana said the family is unsure where the boy will be going to school from now on.
Some of Berndt's students defended him, saying he was a kind and generous teacher.
Angelica Zuniga, a 16-year-old high school junior, was in third grade in 2003 when she had Berndt as a teacher. She said he never asked her or others to do anything strange or to play any inappropriate games.
"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 Redondo Beach police, who on Dec. 2 handed them over to the sheriff's department, Scott said.
Berndt, who taught at Miramonte for more than 30 years ago, was removed from classwork in January and fired within the month.
The LA Times also reported Friday that Deasy was moving quickly on a another case at a different school, which seeks the dismissal of a music teacher at Hamilton High School who allegedly had sexual relationships with students. Two former students, now adults, accuse Vance Miller, 59, of having sex with them while they were in high school.
An attorney for the students has filed one lawsuit for damages. Miller, who has been suspended with pay since 2010, declined to be interviewed, according to the LA Times.
A police investigation did not lead to criminal charges, but the school district opened its own inquiry last fall. Deasy now says he has enough information to dismiss Miller.