Atascadero teacher accuses police of illegal search and seizure

December 17, 2019

Chris Berdoll

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The defense attorney for a former Atascadero teacher accused of taking upskirt photos and videos of young female students is attempting to throw out much of the prosecution’s evidence on the grounds it was obtained via a warrantless search.

Chris Lynn Berdoll, 50, is facing a combined total of 44 counts of possession and production of child pornography. Berdoll was a sixth grade teacher at the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy, where he allegedly filmed girls’ legs, butts and crotches.

Prosecutors allege Berdoll victimized 20 children, six of whom are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that was recently filed against the Atascadero Unified School District.

According to the suit, Berdoll would ask the girls to help him straighten up the classroom and to have lunch with him. While alone with the students, Berdoll would upskirt the girls and have students pose or model for him, the suit alleges.

If students declined his invitations, Berdoll would allegedly follow them to the playground with his electronic devices. In some cases, Berdoll photoshopped himself having sex with images of his students, according to the lawsuit.

On Nov. 12, Ilan Funke-Bilu, Berdoll’s attorney, filed two motions seeking to suppress all evidence investigators obtained from his client’s cell phone and smart watch. The motions also attempt to prevent prosecutors from presenting as evidence statements made by Berdoll and observations made by the arresting officers.

According to Funke-Bilu’s first motion, on Aug. 30, 2018, an Atascadero detective stopped Berdoll’s vehicle while he was surveilling the teacher. The detective, along with a patrol officer, detained Berdoll. The patrol officer confiscated Berdoll’s phone and watch.

Meanwhile, a second detective was attempting to get a search warrant signed by a judge.

Officers detained Berdoll outside his vehicle without arresting him for approximately 77 minutes, doing so under the pretense that the second detective wanted to speak to him, Funke-Bilu stated.

The second detective did not obtain the warrant until nearly an hour after Berdoll was initially detained. The detective who obtained the warrant arrived at the scene about 78 minutes after officers stopped Berdoll, according to Funke-Bilu’s motion.

Funke-Bilu stated police obtained “certain fruits” as a result of a warrantless search and seizure, a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The defense attorney filed a second motion requesting a judge strike each of the 20 possession of child pornography charges Berdoll is facing. Each of the 20 counts resulted from a search of Berdoll’s computers and hard drives on the day he was detained, Funke-Bilu argues.

In a response to the defense motions, Deputy District Attorney Lisa Muscari stated in a court filing that she plans to argue one detective shared information about the allegations against Berdoll with the other detective prior to the traffic stop, and there was probable cause to arrest the teacher. Likewise, Muscari wrote the search of Berdoll’s devices produced images of 16 girls dated between 2016 and Aug. 2018, and several of the girls who appeared in video’s were Berdoll’s students.


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Jorge Estrada

Where is the Gong Show when you have a contestant like this?


Cindy

While this man appears very guilty, we have to respect the Constitution and the rules of justice. Prosecutors should promote legal acts by police officers, instead of repeatedly fighting to protect their illegal acts and cover up their lies.


I watched a case where the district attorney fought almost a dozen motions to compel a police officer to provide body cam tapes. Why? Because the tapes showed the defendant was innocent. After wasting tax payer dollars, the cost of hearing after hearing where all they argued over was the tapes, the tapes were released and the DA dropped the case.


Meanwhile, the DA fails to go after corruption or allows cases to time out, the DA’s office does not have time for justice when they spend so much time and money trying to block evidence that shows some suspects are innocent.


ApathyWillKillYou

I wonder if the defense attorney remembers that DA Dow believes whole heartedly in warrantless searches and seizures…..just ask the O’Conner Way family who still don’t have their kids back.


obispan

There is absolutely no doubt this pervert is guilty. The US justice system needs to be more like European systems where defense council works with prosecutors to ensure an honest truth-seeking process, not Ilan getting rich to turn sick criminals and predators back out on the streets. Ilan has NO morals and represents clients that other attorneys turn down out of personal disgust. And he wanted to be a judge because he thought defendants rights were not being ensured?


MrYan

If accused you would want Ilan as your attorney-without question. I know I would.


You are also a bit confused as to what lawyers are tasked with in this country; ensuring their clients are vigorously represented and receive a fair trial.


Their personal feelings towards those they defend should be irrelevant.


You are concerned with the morals of an Attorney, when you should be concerned about his Ethics.


I am glad this whack job is well defended; because when he is convicted he won’t have the ability to appeal because of inadequate, subpar, defense counsel.


UnReasoned

They better be able to convict this guy on something. No one said the evidence was fake. Seems like improperly collected evidence let’s scumbags walk free but somehow also puts innocent people behind bars.


shelworth

No matter what happens with the case, Karma will haunt this pervert for the rest of his life.


charger805

I agree he and Funke-Bilu are both going to hell.


Gordo

Funke is just doing his job, but he is throwing sh*t against the wall to see what will stick. The officers can take the electronic storage devices to keep the pervert from erasing the incriminating evidence. What they cannot do is forensically exam the contents without a warrant, which it appears they had in this case. Funke can argue the detention was too long, but I don’t think a judge is going to find in favor of a pervert. They might agree a detention is too long if the crime was dope or theft, but not kiddie porn.