An Alhambra Municipal Court judge Wednesday ordered a Montebello high school teacher held for trial on three counts of oral copulation with a 17-year-old boy and reduced his $1-million bail.
Outside the courtroom, the attorney for teacher Harry Christ Manos said he could prove that the most dramatic evidence found in Manos’ Alhambra home, a glass jar containing severed male genitals, was merely a gag gift obtained from a medical school cadaver.
Judge Michael Kanner lowered bail to $22,500 and ordered Manos, 50, bound over for trial in Pasadena Superior Court. Manos’ father posted bail and Manos was to be released later Wednesday, attorney Charles T. Mathews said.
Alhambra police seized the jar from Manos’ home along with boxes of sexually explicit materials, including magazines and videos depicting torture and castration. Mathews said the pornography had “not one iota’s worth” of value in the case against his client. The state has filed no charges in connection with the pornography or body parts.
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Tia Graves said the evidence was relevant. “It’s not a simple case of the victim’s word against Manos’,” she said. “The items recovered corroborate that Mr. Manos has a sexual interest in young men.”
In the preliminary hearing, the teen-ager accused Manos of pressuring him into a sexual relationship in exchange for food, shelter and spending money. He testified that Manos picked him up while the youth was hitchhiking near Las Vegas. The youth had been kicked out of his family’s Las Vegas home, Graves said.
Mathews and 12 friends of Manos’ who wrote the judge said Manos was a good Samaritan, not a child molester. “Were he a heterosexual man with children, he wouldn’t be prosecuted,” Mathews said. He called the charges an attention- getting device by a troubled youngster.
A statement by Ken Leith, a retired biology teacher, said Manos had “enrolled (the boy) in school and gotten permission from the boy’s parents to help get this young man straightened out.”
After his move here, the teen-ager attended Schurr High School in Montebello, where Manos has taught science and math since 1967. He was a semifinalist for the 1986 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching and is praised by his students and colleagues. He is on administrative leave.
The teen-ager first mentioned the alleged molestation to counselors at Charter Oak Hospital in Covina, where he was admitted in December after a suicide attempt. The counselors called police, who arrested Manos at his home Dec. 21. Manos pleaded not guilty at his Dec. 28 arraignment.