Former Scranton area church youth group leader charged with sexually assaulting boy

Proving that the Catholics don’t have a strangle hold on sexual assaults on children, the Scranton Times-Tribune is reporting that Joshua Warren Landis, a youth group leader at Parker Hill Community Church in Clark Summit was charged with indecsent asault and criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviant sexual intercourse.  The Times-Tribune story is quoted below:

Former Clarks Summit church youth group leader charged with sexually assaulting boy

A former church youth group leader has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage boy he met while volunteering with the church, the Lackawanna County district attorney’s office said.

Joshua Warren Landis, 36, of 302 Highland Ave., Clarks Summit, was arrested Tuesday on charges of indecent assault and criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviant sexual intercourse. The district attorney’s office also searched his home, seizing items investigators said were used to befriend the 15-year-old. The Times-Tribune does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Mr. Landis was a youth group leader for Parker Hill Community Church for about a year until he left in July 2009, said Tom Gattorna, business administrator for the church. The sexual contact allegedly occurred in October 2009, after he stopped volunteering.

Mr. Gattorna said he did not know why Mr. Landis stopped volunteering. Mr. Gattorna said he would have no comment on the charges, other than to say, “Obviously, a charge of that nature would be extremely concerning to us.”

In an arrest affidavit, county detectives labeled Mr. Landis a “seduction-type child molester,” saying he used gifts to befriend his victim. He gave the boy a Macintosh laptop, free video games and an iPhone, and allowed him to drive his BMW. After having sexual contact with the boy, Mr. Landis bought him an All-Terrain Vehicle, the detectives allege.

While “wrestling” with the boy one day in October, county detectives allege Mr. Landis grabbed the boy’s mesh shorts in a sexual manner. The boy pushed away, but Mr. Landis approached the boy again and touched his penis again through his shorts, this time with his mouth, according to detectives.

In a recorded conversation between the boy and Mr. Landis, detectives say Mr. Landis acknowledged the sexual contact and apologized.

There is no evidence any other children were molested by Mr. Landis, First Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico said.

“But obviously we would be interested in learning if anyone had any concerns,” Mr. Talerico said.

Thanks to a 2007 amendment to state law on sexual offenses spearheaded by the Lackawanna County District attorney’s office, detectives were able to execute a search warrant and seize items Mr. Landis allegedly used in seducing the teenager. Items seized included a BMW, Toyota FJ Cruiser, iPhone, two ATVs and a laptop.

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Victims and their families can contact SNAP for assistance and support.

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