Students speak out during Atascadero teacher’s sentencing

December 18, 2021

By KAREN VELIE

Before a judge sentenced a former Atascadero school teacher to four years and four months in prison, on Thursday students and parents spoke out about the impact Chris Lynn Berdoll’s sexual misconduct has had on their lives.

While a sixth grade teacher at the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy, Berdoll used electronic devises to record the backsides, legs and crotches of female students. At times, Berdoll touched the girls’ bodies or clothing while recording them. He then photo-shopped his students’ faces on child porn videos.

Berdoll would ask girls to help him straighten up his 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, according to a lawsuit filed in civil court.

More than two dozen students and family members packed the courtroom for Berdoll’s sentencing. A handful of students and parents read statements, often having to stop as they attempted to gain composure.

With tears running down her cheeks, Sydney Doe spoke of the guilt she felt for not recognizing what Berdoll was doing and for not stopping him.

“I did not know what he was doing because I was a child,” Sydney told the court. “What he did left me and others traumatized. I had nightmares and flashbacks, and dreaded going to school.”

Another former student, Kyla Doe, told the court of her fear of others knowing she is part of a child pornography case.

“Hearing the name Chris Berdoll puts me in a panic,” Kyla said. “I am worried about other people knowing. I was not prepared to be part of a child pornography case. I am afraid to talk to male teachers. We deserve as much lawful justice as we can receive.”

Heidi Doe, a parent of one of the victims, chastised Berdoll for not pleading guilty.

“You knew exactly what you were doing,” Heidi said. “If you had a shred of decency, you would have pled guilty in the beginning. You gave my daughter anxiety, fear and a lack of trust.”

Chris Berdoll

In October, Berdoll pleaded no contest to 24 felony counts of using a minor for a sex act and one felony charge of possession of child pornography. Judge Jesse Marino then recommended a three-year sentence.

The District Attorney’s Office objected to the proposed three-year sentence and urged the court to impose the maximum sentence of 19 years. The SLO County Probation Department recommended a sentence of 5 years and 8 months.

“There is no number that will satisfy you,” Judge Marino said. “This has been a huge victimization of the community. The conduct was a gross violation of trust.”

In the end, Judge Marino sentenced Berdoll to four years and four month in prison, explaining that the 19-year sentence is primarily for pornographers who tape the sexual abuse of children.

Following his sentencing, a teary Berdoll apologized to his victims.

“Many of you see me as a monster, I understand that,” Berdoll said with his voice shaking. “I am so sorry from the bottom of my heart. The hardest part for the past three years is not being able to say that. I hope everyone heals, has peace.”


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obispan

4 years? How about 40 years? How the hell did he make that deal? The only thing I can think is that he has dirt that the AUSD and the DA’s office does not want to come to light.


Florian75

Every civil servant, especially firefighters, police, teachers, social workers and recreation program workers should undergo a comprehensive background check and extensive psychological testing as a routine step in the hiring process. It probably would be an equally warranted and proper requirement for government agency department heads and all elected politicians.


varian08

sure, lets do it also for all construction workers, office staff, retail workers etc.


obispan

Civil servants do undergo background checks, and your record needs to be clean at the time you get hired, but not “extensive psychological evaluations” except for police officers, and not for elected politicians as they are not “employees”, though they may receive stipends and benefits.


womanwhohasbeenthere

His young victims will still be around here when he gets out. It never ends for them.


kevin rise

The DA cares not about sexual crimes. The owner of Whale Bird Kombucha was arrested in a prostitution sting related to child sex work and got a misdemeanor. I can’t stand our DA and his political manipulation and letting criminals go, like the Sheriff, Wallace, Adam Hill and the list goes on and on and on.


MrYan

No contest to 24 felony charges gets you 52 months in prison?


That is 2.16 months in Jail per felony!


Why does this DA coddle pedophiles in our schools? Slap on the wrist to the pervert from MB. A slap for a pervert in Atascadero.

You let them negotiate favorable outcomes and avoid public trials. This DA coddles of the worst of the worst.

Bring down the weight of the DA office on perverts instead of misguided protestors.


Pedophiles, especially ones who are in a position of authority over our children, need to be made an example of in our system. This DA doesn’t seem to agree. He lets them off, regularly, with hand slaps which do not help to deter their behavior in anyway.


Cindy

The DA wanted 19 years. It was the judge who wanted the lighter sentence. You need to reread the article.


The DA and defense attorneys make recommendations, but it is the judge who decides.


Florian75

Long sentences were imposed on the sex offenders recently convicted in the separate cases that occurred in Santa Margarita and San Miguel.


Borderline

See you as monster? News flash, you ARE a monster, one that should never be let back into civil society That sentence is not nearly long enough!


commonsenseguy

Personally, I feel it isn’t long enough. He’s a sick and perverted individual. Upon his release, I hope he is very closely monitored and is never able to teach or interact with minors again. Hold him to the strictest standards possible legally to help prevent future victims of this guy. I think it opens the door for him to repeat due to the light sentence.