"FortunatelyÂ for everyone, this individual wasÂ very observant and realized what was was going on," Scott said. "I giveÂ them a lot of credit for going to the Redondo Beach police." Film processors are mandated to report suspected child abuse under California law. Scott said Redondo Beach police turned over the investigation to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's sexual crimes unit when theyÂ discovered the teacher'sÂ school location in December 2010.
Scott said a spoon recovered from a trash bin in Berndt's classroom is a key piece of evidence. He saidÂ Det. Marvin Jaramillo early in the investigation visited Berndt's classroom, saw the spoon in the trash and retrieved it. "The recovered item tested positive for semen," Scott said. Through further investigation, the suspectâ€™s DNA was obtained and tested, and officials said it matched that of the DNA found on the spoon. Scott said Berndt, a 30-year teacher,Â portrayed the bondage and spoon as part of a game that he played regularly in his classroom. "This occurred in his regular classroom with his students," Scott said. "It wasn't done in secrecy. The only secret was what the game was really about." "Based on what we found, it was doneÂ for sexual gratification," he continued. "The semen and the bondage was a sexual experience for him, and that is why it is a lewd act." Berndt's arrestÂ culminated a yearlong investigation by the L.A. County sheriff's special victims unit. The 23 alleged victims are both boys and girls and ranged in age from 7 to 10.