Baby-Sitter Pleads Guilty to Molesting 3 Child Actors

Times Staff Writer

A Tarzana man pleaded guilty Thursday in Van Nuys Municipal Court to sexually molesting two boys and a girl who were child actors he cared for as a "set sitter."

In an agreement with prosecutors, Joseph Christian Fontana, 32, pleaded guilty to three of 16 counts of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child, Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Pargament said. All the counts involved the three victims, he said.

The sexual molestations occurred from 1981 to 1986 in the childrens' homes and in Fontana's apartment, Pargament said. The victims now range in age from 16 to 20.

Fontana "was very much a close friend of the families," Pargament said.

The job involved driving the children to and from their acting jobs and acting as baby-sitter in the afternoon until working parents arrived home, Pargament said.

The case against Fontana emerged this summer when one of the victims feared for the 12-year-old son of a Florida woman whom he learned had married Fontana, the prosecutor said. The boy told his mother that Fontana had abused him for years, and she spoke to the parent of two other children in Fontana's care, he said.

The other children said they also were molested and Los Angeles police arrested Fontana on Sept. 18 in Tarzana, Pargament said. After the arrest, Fontana's wife in Florida divorced him, according to testimony.

Two of the three victims are brother and sister, authorities said. Several years before the sexual molestation charges surfaced, Fontana lived with one of the victim's parents, a divorced woman, for several months, authorities said.

Judge Robert H. Wallerstein scheduled sentencing for Feb. 11 in Van Nuys Superior Court. Fontana faces a maximum term of 10 years in state prison. He is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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