LOS ANGELES -- Saying the nation's second largest city has 'no community standards' when it comes to sex, a federal magistrate ordered an accused child molester released on bail because he posed no threat. A federal judge later jailed the suspect.
John Karl Herriot, a former Boy Scout leader and Catholic school teacher, was indicted this week on charges he imported and sexually assaulted two boys from Mexico.
'I can't speak for Palo Alto (Calif.), but community standards here with regard to sexual conduct are practically non-existent,' U.S. Magistrate John Kronenberg said Thursday, moments before ordering Herriot released on $100,000 bail.
'I don't think we have any community standards here.'
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joyce Karlin, who had asked that Herriot be held without bail, refused to discuss Kronenberg's comments, but immediately appealed his order for bail to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Takasugi.
After a brief hearing Takasugi, ordered Herriot jailed pending the outcome of an appeals hearing today.
Kronenberg said the city's low moral standards were exemplified by a recent three-part series in the Los Angeles Times 'glorifying one of the leading pornographers in the country,' Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner.
'There is a lack of hard evidence that there has been the type of conduct that the defendant is a threat to anyone, except perhaps in the sexual field,' Kronenberg said of Herriot.
William Thomas, editor of the Los Angeles Times, called Kronenberg's remarks, '... the strangest reasoning I think I've ever heard from a magistrate's bench.'
Don Rogers, a spokesman for Playboy, said, 'We simply don't understand the magistrate's statement or his decision.'
Herriot was indicted Wednesday on five counts of importing youngsters from Mexico for immoral purposes, and was in the process of posting bail when notified of the government's appeal.
Herriot, 33, whose father is a professor at Stanford University in Palo Alto, is also awaiting trial in state court on similar molestation charges involving five boys.
Authorities said Herriot is suspected of molesting at least 15 youths, including two boys he earlier brought from orphanages in Guatemala and El Salvador.
Karlin said the boys involved in the federal case were taken from their poverty-stricken mothers in August after Herriot convinced them he would adopt and educate the children in the United States.
She said Herriot taught at the Our Lady of Soledad school in East Los Angeles until his arrest last summer on the state charges. He was freed on $150,000 bail in that case.
The prosecutor said Herriot, using the name John Harris, worked as a Boy Scout leader and baseball coach at schools in underprivileged areas of Los Angeles and El Paso, Texas, where he formerly lived.
She said he often took his Scout troops and teams on weekend outings, during which he allegedly molested the youths.