Crime

Atascadero teacher arrested for allegedly taking ‘up-skirt’ videos of girls at school

Atascadero Academy of Fine Arts teacher Chris Berdoll could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of all the charges against him.
Atascadero Academy of Fine Arts teacher Chris Berdoll could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of all the charges against him. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office

A sixth-grade teacher at the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy was arrested Monday on suspicion of taking “up-skirt” videos of girls at the school, according to Atascadero police.

The Atascadero Police Department says that Chris Lynn Berdoll, 48, of Atascadero was arrested Monday on suspicion of charges of sexual exploitation of a child, production of child pornography, and possession of child pornography.

Chief Jerel Haley said that the alleged crimes occurred this school year and a previous year.

Berdoll was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail Monday evening in lieu of $35,000 bail.

The department said in a news release that the Atascadero Unified School District contacted the police about “the possibility of a district teacher who had inappropriately video-recorded the undergarments of female students.”

A followup by police investigators determined that the reports were accurate. The department served a search warrant at Berdoll’s home and is now reviewing content found on electronic devices, Haley said.

The Police Department says the school district responded promptly to the allegations, and that the parents of all known victims were notified.

“It currently appears that none of the schoolchildren involved were physically molested; however, inappropriate videotaping did take place,” the news release states.

Police say the images obtained did not show any adult contact with the children, but the department is declining to comment further.

Police added that if anyone suspects their child may have been victimized, they are encouraged to contact the Atascadero Police Department or Curt Eichperger, assistant superintendent of human resources of the Atascadero Unified School District at 805-462-4200.

“The Atascadero Unified School District is committed to student safety and is thankful to the individuals who brought forward initial concerns and allegations about a staff member at the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy,” district superintendent, Thomas Butler, said in a prepared statement. “The courageous individuals who ‘saw something and said something’ allowed the district to take immediate action to ensure student safety.”

Butler wrote in a news release that the district immediately placed Berdoll on administrative leave while it conducted an internal investigation. Butler’s news release does not specify when Berdoll was placed on leave. The superintendent also would not respond to questions about whether Berdoll’s leave is paid.

“Should these allegations be confirmed, (the district) will pursue the termination of the employee,” the news release said.

Assistant District Attorney Eric Dobroth confirmed Monday that prosecutors have been in communication with the Atascadero Police Department and that he expects his office will receive the results of the Atascadero police investigation for recommended charges in the coming days.

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Matt Fountain 781-7909, @mattfountain1
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