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D.A.: Lewd charges dropped against L.A. teacher because victim won't testify

By Michael Martinez and Jaqueline Hurtado, CNN
updated 5:45 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three felonies and three misdemeanors are dismissed against Martin Bernard Springer
  • The alleged victim, now 12, "does not want to testify," official says
  • Springer was one of two former teachers at Miramonte Elementary accused of abuse
  • The other teacher is now serving a 25-year prison sentence

(CNN) -- Charges were dismissed against one of two former teachers accused of lewd conduct in a high-profile student abuse case in a Los Angeles school because an alleged victim won't testify, authorities said Wednesday.

Martin Bernard Springer, 51, had been facing three felony counts of a lewd act on a girl under age 14 and three misdemeanor counts of child molesting against a girl under age 18. The incidents allegedly occurred against one victim at Miramonte Elementary School between April 2009 and June 2009.

Those six charges were dismissed Wednesday by Los Angeles County Judge Charlaine Olmedo, officials said.

"The prosecution announced today that we are unable to proceed because the victim does not want to testify," Shiara Davila-Morales, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney, said Wednesday.

"The victim, who is now 12, was very traumatized with the experience of testifying in court during the preliminary hearing. Because her testimony is essential to the case, the DA's Office cannot proceed without her testimony. The case can be refiled, however, should the victim change her mind within the statute of limitations," Davila-Morales said.

The alleged abuse of students at Miramonte Elementary drew widespread attention because another former teacher, Mark Berndt, was arrested and accused of taking bondage photos of more than two dozen students in his classroom, including some with suspected semen-filled spoons at their mouths.

Berndt pleaded no contest to felony lewd acts on 23 children and was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison. His case led to almost 200 students suing Los Angeles Unified School District, claiming that they, too, were victims, and the district reached a $30 million settlement with 63 of 190 students' claims alleging they were victims of sexually lewd acts by Berndt. The remaining claims are pending.

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