Crime

Atascadero teacher charged with 44 counts of child porn as number of victims grows

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

An Atascadero Fine Arts Academy teacher arrested last week after allegedly being caught taking “up-skirt” videos of students in class was charged Friday with 44 felonies related to child pornography.

Officials say they have so far identified 20 child victims and a joint Atascadero Police-District Attorney’s Office investigation remains ongoing.

Chris Lynn Berdoll, 48, was charged Friday with 24 counts alleging that he used children under the age of 18 to pose or model for the purpose of preparing photographs to depict child pornography. Twenty additional felony counts allege that Berdoll was in possession of the child pornography.

If convicted of all charges and ordered to serve his sentence consecutively, Berdoll could face more than 30 years in state prison, a District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said.

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Chris Berdoll, a sixth-grade teacher, is accused of taking inappropriate videos of female students at the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy. Lindsey Holden lholden@thetribunenews.com

Berdoll has been out of jail custody since shortly after his Sept. 10 arrest, when he posted $500,000 bail.

He has not yet entered a plea to the charges; a San Luis Obispo Superior Court arraignment is scheduled for Monday.

Berdoll was arrested Sept. 10 after district officials contacted police about “the possibility of a district teacher who had inappropriately video-recorded the undergarments of female students.”

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

Police said the school district responded promptly to the allegations, and the parents of all known victims were notified.

“It currently appears that none of the school children involved were physically molested; however, inappropriate videotaping did take place,” according to a city news release.

The Atascadero Police Department forwarded their initial findings to the DA’s Office on Sept. 13.

The DA’s Office declined to release any more information about the case Friday other than to say it will seek criminal protective orders on Monday to prohibit Berdoll from contacting any of the alleged victims.

Berdoll has been on paid administrative leave from his teaching position since allegations surfaced Aug. 31, Tom Butler, superintendent for Atascadero Unified School District, previously told The Tribune.

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Matt Fountain: 781-7909, @mattfountain1
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