A 54-year-old Van Nuys man who prosecutors said used his position as a youth volunteer to molest young boys admitted in court Tuesday to sexually abusing six youths.
Landreth Harrison pleaded no contest--the legal equivalent of a guilty plea--in Van Nuys Superior Court to 10 sex-related charges, for which he could be sentenced to 24 years in prison.
At a preliminary hearing in Van Nuys Municipal Court in July, six boys testified that during the previous two years Harrison had repeatedly molested or sodomized them at his mobile home or on outings.
They said they met Harrison through two organizations for which the defendant volunteered--the Boy Scouts and the Boys & Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley in Pacoima.
The boys, ages 10 to 12, testified that they called Harrison "Landy" and that he bought them sweat shirts and provided them with tents and other camping gear.
Several said they enjoyed the outings but disliked the sexual abuse.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard F. Walmark said outside court Tuesday that there was "no evidence of force or coercion" in the boys' relationship with Harrison.
But he said the defendant "misused his position of trust to exploit the boys."
Police arrested Harrison, then a cashier at a Northridge hardware store, after a pizza delivery man on April 19 reported seeing two naked boys inside his mobile home.
He has been in jail in lieu of $210,000 bail since his arrest.
At the request of Deputy Public Defender Thomas B. Summers, Superior Court Judge Judith M. Ashmann ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Harrison prior to sentencing Nov. 20.
Harrison pleaded no contest to eight counts of performing a lewd act with a child, one count of sodomy and one count of possessing child pornography.
The child pornography count is based on several videotapes that police found at Harrison's home showing the defendant in the company of several nude boys.
Walmark said Tuesday that the boys on the video have never been identified but are not the same ones who testified against Harrison.
According to officials of the Boys & Girls Club in Pacoima, Harrison was dismissed from his volunteer position after the club learned that he had taken two boys on an unauthorized camping trip.
An official of the Boy Scouts' Los Angeles Area Council said that Harrison was a former scoutmaster but that he had not been affiliated with the Scouts for at least two years prior to his arrest.