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Judge Voices Concern for Missing Boy, Denies Bail in Sex Abuse Case

January 12, 1985|JOHN KENDALL | Times Staff Writer

Expressing concern for a missing child, a federal judge ruled Friday that a former Catholic school teacher accused of bringing boys into the United States for sexual purposes must be held without bail, at least until information is provided on the boy.

"The court has a strong concern with respect to the safety of the minor child," U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi said as he denied bail for John Karl Herriot, 33, of Los Angeles.

"The court is not in receipt of any credible evidence that the child is well and taken care of and considering the previous relationship that existed (between Herriot and the boy) . . . there is concern with respect to the safety of that minor," Takasugi said.

The missing boy is 13-year-old David Hernandez, who the government says was taken from an orphanage in El Salvador by Herriot in 1980 and brought to the United States.

Takasugi indicated that if his fears were allayed, he might release Herriot at a subsequent bail hearing. He said he was satisfied that Herriot would return for trial if released on bail.

Impoverished Mothers

Herriot, who formerly taught at Our Lady of Soledad School in East Los Angeles, was accused in a federal grand jury indictment on Wednesday of transporting two boys, ages 9 and 13, from Juarez, Mexico, after convincing their impoverished mothers he would care for them in the United States.

The tall, dark-haired Herriot also was arrested in August on charges of molesting five other boys and faces trial in state court. Until his indictment this week, Herriot had been free on $155,000 bail, secured by his parents' Palo Alto home.

When Herriot was brought to court on the federal indictment on Thursday, U.S. Magistrate John R. Kronenberg ordered his release on a $100,000 appearance bond. Kronenberg rejected Assistant U.S. Atty. Joyce Karlin's argument that Herriot was a threat to public safety.

The magistrate criticized the lack of public standards for sexual conduct, specifically citing the Playboy Channel carried by the Dimension Cable Service of Times Mirror Cable Television as an example.

Immediate Appeal

Herriot's release was blocked by an immediate appeal to Takasugi, who kept the defendant in custody pending a hearing.

Both Karlin and Herriot's attorney, Brad Brunon, indicated Friday that they did not understand what Kronenberg's remarks about sexual standards had to do with whether Herriot was supposedly a threat to the public.

The two attorneys argued the bail question before Takasugi again Friday.

Karlin told the court that Herriot faced possible future charges if the government can locate young Hernandez, who Karlin said was taken from an El Salvador orphanage and lived with Herriot for about two years before he was left alone with $20 in El Paso, Tex. She said Herriot refuses to say where the boy may be.

Brunon said he understands that a woman who knew about the charges against Herriot offered to care for the youngster.

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