The principal of Schurr High School in Montebello says Harry Christ Manos is one of the best teachers he’s ever known.
But according to authorities, the science and math teacher had another life. Alhambra police arrested him Dec. 21 on charges that he molested a 17-year-old boy who was living with him.
Evidence uncovered later that day at Manos’ home included pornographic magazines depicting torture, mutilation and castration; sexually explicit videos and photos, and a jar containing severed male genitals, said Alhambra Police Lt. Jim Henshey.
Investigators have contacted other agencies in an attempt to trace the origin of the genitals.
Manos, 50, who is being held in County Jail in lieu of $1-million bail, pleaded not guilty at his Dec. 28 arraignment in Alhambra Municipal Court on three counts of oral copulation with a minor. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Wednesday.
On Friday, Schurr Principal Jim Douglas called Manos “one of the 10 finest teachers I’ve ever come in contact with.” Manos taught advanced-placement physics and honors pre-calculus.
“He’s recognized for his teaching throughout the country, a totally professional person,” Douglas said. “In the 25 years I’ve known him, I never heard an inkling of any complaints from the kids about him.”
Manos has been on administrative leave since his arrest on the last day before winter break. The district did not learn the nature of the charges until last week, Douglas said.
The alleged victim, whose name has not been released because of his age, told counselors at Charter Oak Hospital that Manos had molested him, police said. The youth was being treated at the hospital after a suicide attempt, police said.
Manos’ attorney was in court on another case Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Friends and colleagues of Manos question the credibility of his accuser, a runaway whom Manos befriended in Las Vegas. With the approval of the boy’s parents, school district sources said, Manos took the boy into his home and enrolled him at Schurr.
If convicted on all counts, Manos, who has no record as a sex offender, could be sentenced to a maximum of four years and four months in county jail.