…then we tattoo him, then we hang him, and then we kill him.  Those are a few of the lines in the biker bar scene in Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure.  And they’re most appropriate for the guy I’m writing about.

Mark Berndt, age 61, was a teacher with over 30 years experience at the Miramonte Elementary School in south Los Angeles.  He’s recently been charged with molesting 23 children.  This pedophile’s vile behavior finally came to light when a photo processing facility passed along to the police suspicious images of this pig’s photos of his students.  After their investigation, Berndt was arrested.

I’m not going to describe his disgusting actions but I’m sure if anyone is interested in the complete story, it can easily be found.  Let me just say that his DNA was found on objects in the trash in his classroom which means his activities were done on the school grounds.

But this scumbag wasn’t the only one who took advantage of these little children.  During the investigation, Martin Springer, another teacher, was arrested on suspicion of committing lewd acts on a child.  As a result, the School District, decide to re-staff the entire school.

As a former prosecutor and an attorney for over two decades in the area of child abuse and neglect, I’ve seen some horrible things.  I also know that someone at 61 years of age doesn’t wake up one morning and say I’m going to start molesting some children today.

Berndt’s activities had to have been going on for a very long time and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more of his victims will be coming forward in the next few months.

What I don’t get is how this guy got away with it for so long.  This is not the case of sexual abuse within a family which is often cloaked in secrecy.  Children within a family often don’t say anything because they don’t know that the behavior is wrong or, if they do, they keep silent for a variety of reasons.

But in this case, Berndt’s access to children was at the school and if evidence of his despicable behavior was in his classroom, then how many people had seen something or suspected something throughout this guy’s 30-year career and said absolutely nothing.

We’ve all read enough about the horrific actions of Jerry Sandusky at Penn State where people actually saw him molest children and either said nothing or failed to report the behavior to the police.  We saw Joe Paterno fired from his job because of his belief that someone else would do the right thing, tarnishing his otherwise honorable career.

I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more about Berndt as the story unfolds and more victims come forward.  We already know that he fondled a little girl back in the early 90s but the prosecutor didn’t have enough evidence to go forward.

According to news reports, his entire career was at Miramonte School, so the idea that no one knew what he was doing is absolutely implausible, especially because of the girl’s claim in 1993.

When so many people in today’s society are offended by the slightest grievance, it amazes me how many people can look but not see what’s going on before their very eyes.  Why people won’t/can’t/choose not to take a stand against the abuse of the most vulnerable in our society is something I will never get.  Just like the mother who chooses to close her eyes to the molestation of her own child by the man in her life, far too many people choose not to get involved and report the criminal actions of disgusting people like Berndt.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

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