LOS ANGELES — Sheriff's deputies recommended in 1994 that a sex charge be filed against a teacher now suspected of taking bondage-style photos of children in his class, but prosecutors refused, saying there wasn't enough evidence, authorities said Thursday.
The 1994 investigation came after a 10-year-old girl claimed elementary school teacher Mark Berndt reached toward her genitals during class and she pushed his hand away, sheriff's Sgt. Dan Scott said.
The details of the 18-year-old case and other claims by two former students about strange behavior by Berndt surfaced just three days after his arrest.
The allegations raised further questions about why he wasn't disciplined by school officials, who have been lambasted by some parents for waiting a year to reveal Berndt was suspected of photographing children for sexual thrills.
Berndt, who taught at Miramonte Elementary School for more than 30 years, was removed from class work in January 2011 and was fired within the month.
Only parents of children identified as victims were told by authorities about the most recent investigation. School officials and investigators said proper procedures were followed to investigate and build a case against the teacher.
Berndt, 61, remains jailed on $23 million bail