A former teacher at a Catholic school in East Los Angeles, awaiting trial on child molestation charges in a state court, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on allegations of "importing" and sexually assaulting two boys from Central America.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Joyce Karlin said John Karl Herriot, 33, is believed to have molested at least 15 youths, including two boys he took from orphanages in Guatemala and El Salvador.
A federal magistrate ordered Herriot, who had been free on bail, to remain in custody pending another hearing today.
Karlin said Herriot taught at the Our Lady of Soledad School in East Los Angeles until his arrest on molestation charges, involving five boys, in August. He had been free on $150,000 bail pending trial.
The prosecutor said the boys involved in the federal case were taken from their poverty-stricken mothers in August, after Herriot convinced them that he would adopt and educate the children in the United States.
Herriot's mother, Sara, told reporters outside court that she does not believe the allegations.
"I never heard so many lies in my life," she said.
Karlin said Herriot, using the name John Harris, also worked as a Boy Scout leader and baseball coach in Los Angeles and El Paso, Tex., where he formerly lived. She said he often took his scouting troops and teams on weekend outings, during which he allegedly molested the youths.
Karlin said Herriot first brought an orphaned Guatemalan youth to the United States in 1978.
Herriot turned himself in to federal authorities after the five-count indictment was issued Wednesday.